Counseling Sexually Active Clients with Hiv Essay examples

5394 Words Apr 12th, 2013 22 Pages
Lethal Sex:

Conditions of Disclosure in

Counseling Sexually Active Clients with HIV

Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D. The present HIV pandemic presents challenges for mental health practitioners who, in the course of therapy, sometimes become privy to confidential information about potentially lethal sexual relationships ongoing between the client and one or more uninformed partner(s). In this lecture I will discuss the current professional/legal status of making disclosure in such cases, and my work as an applied professional ethicist in the development, drafting, and defense of a limited rule of disclosure. State statutes typically make it a crime for a person who knows that he or she is HIV positive to engage in unprotected sex
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In 1995, when the ACA was in the process of revising its code of ethics, I proposed a model rule based on the Hatherleigh article. The ACA adopted the proposed rule with minor changes. This rule, which set precedent for state laws (such as the Florida statute mentioned above) and other professional codes of ethics in counseling and psychology (such as the American Mental Health Counselors Association code), permitted disclosure under certain conditions. This rule, which I named the “Contagious, Fatal Diseases” rule, states, A counselor who receives information confirming that a client has a disease commonly known to be both communicable and fatal is justified in disclosing information to an identifiable third party, who by his or her relationship with the client is at a high risk of contracting the disease. Prior to making a disclosure the counselor should ascertain that the client has not already informed the third party about his or her disease and that the client is not intending to inform the third party in the immediate future. (ACA, B.1.d) In developing and defending the provisions of this rule, I used broad standards of moral conduct from two venerable traditions in ethics: (1) Kantian Ethics and (2) Utilitarian Ethics. According to the Kantian tradition, moral propriety requires that persons be treated as ends in themselves and not
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