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Ethics of AIDS disclosure for massage therapists
Jul 25, 2000

What is your opinion about Massage Therapists disclosing the fact that they have AIDS to their clients? Do the clients have the right to know?

What is the difference between AIDS and HIV?

If the drugs are working and my cell count is up, do I still have AIDS?

Response from Ms. Gabriel

Your question is a very good one -- because it is not a matter of opinion, but one of law. The law says that the right to know is based on the need to know -- disclosure is not necessary unless, in the workplace, there is a "significant risk" of exposure. In the practice of legitimate massage therapy the therapist would not pose a significant risk, i.e., share needles, have unprotected sex with a client. So the answer to your question is NO, the clients has no right to know -- more practically, no need to know.

As to the difference between AIDS and HIV, here's a simple way to think about it. HIV is the virus, AIDS is the diagnosis for the life threatening stage of HIV. Technically an HIV+ test result AND: a t-cell count of 200 or less OR the presence of an opportunistic infection. And the answer to your final question is, if you have ever been given a diagnosis of AIDS, that diagnosis will remain regardless of your current health status (t-cell count higher than 200 or recovery from the opportunistic infection).

Lynne Gabriel

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