HIV stands for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.i The virus eventually can lead to the development of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS.ii There are two forms of HIV, HIV-1 (which is what most people mean when they say “HIV”) and HIV-2. Both forms of HIV “damage a person’s body by destroying specific blood cells, called CD4+ T cells, which are crucial to helping the body fight diseases.”iii Essentially, HIV attacks the immune system by invading these cells (white blood cells), replicating, and destroying the cells.
Most people who become infected with HIV will develop flu-like symptoms within two to six weeks after infection. This is known as “primary or acute HIV infection.” Some patients, however, will be asymptomatic during this time and will show no signs of infection. Both forms of infection are highly contagious during the primary infection due to a high viral load.iv The flu-like symptoms in the first two to six weeks after infection and the symptoms in the time are detailed in this chapter.
Scientists believe that HIV was first transmitted to humans from chimpanzees sometime between 1884 and 1924 in West Central Africa.v The transfer probably occurred when a hunter killed and ate the infected meat of a chimpanzee, of when blood from the infected chimpanzee crossed into the hunter through a wound.vi More on this history will be explained in depth in this chapter.
HIV/AIDS is transmitted when infected blood (including menstrual flow), semen (including pre-ejaculation), vaginal fluid, or breast milk enters the body of an uninfected person. The most common methods of transmission are: unprotected sex with an infected person, sharing needles with an infected person, and from mother to infant.vii Other methods of transmission will be discussed in this chapter, along with common misconceptions of HIV and AIDS transmission.
The spread of HIV/AIDS can be controlled through many different means. For example, in this chapter, behaviors that should be avoided, how to handle protection like latex gloves, and using sharp objects are important topics, among others, for the therapist to understand.
Florida state law requires “each district school board to provide courses and appropriate instruction in comprehensive health education that addresses family life, including the benefits of sexual abstinence as the expected standard and the consequences of teenage pregnancy.”viii Florida state law requires that all massage therapy licensure applicants complete at least one hour of HIV/AIDS education in order to receive their initial license.ix
Florida law states: “no person shall perform an HIV test without first obtaining the informed consent of the test subject or his legal representative.”x If a health care provider tests a patient for HIV without informed consent outside of these legally acceptable exceptions, he or she is subject to loss of license (permanently or temporarily), fines, and civil suit.xi The fact that an HIV test has occurred, along with the results or any other related details, are under special confidentiality clauses of Florida law. All of this and more will be covered in this chapter.
Florida has several laws that prohibit people from discriminating against those with HIV/AIDS. In this section the laws prohibiting discrimination are covered in depth. For example, health care facilities cannot require HIV testing as a condition of admission or service.
Florida has laws that govern certain behaviors of HIV infected persons, and the behaviors of certain healthcare workers. For example, failure to test blood or any other human tissue meant for transfusion or transplant, or violation of confidentiality requirements associated with testing, is guilty of a first degree misdemeanor.
i Aids.gov, “What is HIV/Aids?” http://aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/hiv-aids-101/overview/what-is-hiv-aids/
ii Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Basic Information About HIV and AIDS,” http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/basic/
iv Mayo Clinic, “HIV/AIDS Symptoms,” http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hiv-aids/ds00005/dsection=symptoms
v WebMD, “AIDS Retrospective Slideshow: A Pictorial Timeline of the HIV/AIDS Pandemic,” http://www.webmd.com/hiv-aids/ss/slideshow-aids-retrospective
vii Bucks County, Bucks County Health Department, “HIV/AIDS: Know the Facts,” http://www.buckscounty.org/government/departments/humanservices/healthdepartment/PersonalHealth/HIVFactsFAQs.aspx
viii National Association of State Boards of Education, “Florida,” http://nasbe.org/healthy_schools/hs/state.php?state=Florida# HIV, STD, and Pregnancy Prevention Education
ix Florida Department of Health, “Massage Therapy Continuing Education,” http://www.doh.state.fl.us/mqa/massage/ma_ceu.html
x Florida Department of Health, “Model Protocol For HIV Counseling and Testing for County Health Departments and Registered Testing Programs,” http://www.doh.state.fl.us/disease_ctrl/aids/legal/ctforchd.htm
xi Jack P. Hartog, Florida Department of Health, “Florida’s Omnibus Act: A Brief Legal Guide for Health Care Professionals,” (1999), http://www.doh.state.fl.us/disease_ctrl/aids/legal/hartog.pdf