AIDS

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AIDS is an infectious viral disease that causes progressive impairment of the immune system. A person has AIDS when the immune system has weakened to the point at which he or she has had at least three opportunistic diseases or T-cell blood count below 200 cells/mcL. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection. The average time from exposure to development of AIDS is just over 10 years. Several months ago I gave free chair massages at a local community college. One of the students that came in listed on his medical chart that he had Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). While I did not think twice about conducting the massage, I know that there are some people that still have problems giving massage to someone who has AIDS. This person was extremely appreciative of the massage and said it made him feel so much better. Because the chair massage was only 15 minutes, I did not have to worry as much about preventing fatigue. I did use lighter pressure than I normally would have used. Other than these two considerations, I gave the same massage that I would have to someone without the disease. One of the main reasons that I am getting my massage certification is so that I can do massages through an organization called Heart Touch. (http://www.hearttouch.org/html/about.html) This organization was formed when in 1995, Shawnee Isaac Smith’s very good friend and fellow body worker, was dying of a terminal illness – AIDS. All of his friends refused to touch or even visit him. Shawnee began to provide him with weekly massage sessions. Just to be touched, he told her, made him feel human again. Most massage therapists were unwilling to touch people with AIDS for fear of contracting the virus. Shawnee, through massage, found a way to comfort her friend during the greatest struggle of his life. This organization now provides massage to a variety of people other than those with AIDS and I hope to go through the training program as soon as I finish massage school.

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