In the course of my voluntary work, I’ve met various people from various backgrounds. Although, some of them do give me trouble by getting themselves into trouble, basically I don’t really have problems in dealing with them. I just do what I can, and avoid getting myself too personally involved.
At the GH during my HIV clinic duty, whenever the staff nurse (SN) refers new cases to us, we take down the patients’ details (we call them clients), we talk to them, we offer them our support service, and we leave it to them to decide whether they want us to be their buddies. It may not be easy to break the ice, sometimes it may take a few meets or calls before they open up, or sometimes they don’t open up at all because in the kind of situation they are in, it’s not easy gaining their trust.
But so far the cases referred to me personally were those of people whom I had never met before. I never knew them, I never knew their family. So although the clients may initially find it difficult to open up, at least they are not too worried about having me tell their relatives/friends about their HIV status.
I can’t really imagine what would happen if one day while on voluntary duty at the hospital, SN comes in with a new client to be referred to us… and that person happens to be someone I know and/or who knows me! A kampong folk maybe?
No, I personally don’t have any problems with that. I’d still treat him/her just like the other clients – assuring confidentiality and all. But I wonder if the client him/herself would be comfortable with me after finding out that I know his/her status? Would they trust me enough to be convinced that I won’t be telling anyone else about their HIV? Not even my own family members?
I don’t tell my family members who my clients are, whether or not they know the person. I don’t have the right to breach the confidentiality of my clients’ HIV status. But with actual cases of breach of patients’ confidentiality happening, particularly by those who knew the patient personally, would I be able to convince the clients that they can trust me?
Oh well, I sincerely hope nobody I already know will ever have to be referred to me for HIV!