One of the things that have passed through my mind, and have given me a few minutes of anxiety is that I may not be physically able to do the work I’m pushing to do. I am HIV positive, and in the state of Florida, I can’t be assured that the state isn’t working with current science.
I wondered myself if the laws of my state would protect my health information, if it is not important to me and my clients care. I don’t want to disclose my status unless I am legally obligated to do so. It is my right to privacy to have my medical condition be kept confidential, until the condition becomes a safety threat.
So I have spent many hours searching for my answer. Google is great, but you can’t believe everything you read on there. You need confirmation.
So I called some nurses in the know. The nurses that care for HIV and AIDS patients. I asked them that question. This is what I learned:
Just testing positive for HIV cannot bar you from serving with a certificate under the Nursing Board’s updated guidelines. Having an undetectable viral load reduces my risk for transmission to the medical level of safety that other nurses are able to work, free of communicable diseases.
You must be clear of Hepatitis A and B via vaccination, and to demonstrate a negative TB test. You need to be able to be physical and to be able to be on your feet long hours. You need to the mental stability to be able to deal with the rigors of healthcare work.
You need to be educated, and demonstrate that you are competent for certification.
If there are any high risk procedures that universal precautions cannot protect you and the patient, I have the responsibility to find another CNA to complete the task. If there is any incident, I am required to report it.
Nothing in the statutes says HIV, well medicated and controlled, can stop me from my goals to be a Certified Nursing Assistant. Undetectable equals untransmittable, and that is the science. The rest is stigma and I know I will feel plenty of that going forward.
But not today. Today I move closer to my goals, despite anything anyone else has to say. It is admittedly grand goal, but I’ve made my mind up and nothing will get in my way.
I will ask for a full copy of my medical records, including my shot records, and current testing results just to be safe. I am guarding myself already for the push back. Bring it on; I have science on my side.
You do too. Never let HIV get in the way of your dreams.
With unconditional love,
Your Friend David.