Questions to ask a complementary therapist if you’re living with HIV

If you are living with HIV, here are some questions you might want to ask when selecting a complementary therapist:

  • How much training has the practitioner received and with whom has the practitioner studied?
  • Is the practitioner a member of any professional association or a regulatory college? If so, which one? Can the practitioner provide contact information for this professional association?
  • How long has the practitioner been practising?
  • Does the practitioner have experience working with people with HIV? Is the practitioner knowledgeable about HIV?
  • What have the results been like for the practitioner's HIV-positive clients?
  • Can the practitioner provide references—from other clients, professional bodies or reputable colleagues?
  • Under what circumstances would the practitioner refer you to a medical doctor or another health professional?
  • How many treatments does the practitioner estimate will be required? At what cost?
  • How long will each treatment take? Is there anything you need to do before or after treatments?
  • Are appropriate precautions being taken in the practitioner's office to prevent transmission of an infection between client and practitioner? Between clients?

When interviewing a practitioner, determine your personal comfort level. Do you trust the practitioner? Do you feel that she or he can help you? Does the practitioner reveal biases or prejudices that could hinder your relationship with them and affect the treatment you receive? There is no point in forcing yourself into an uncomfortable relationship. It is up to you to judge how much training, experience and professional support your practitioner requires to meet your needs.

When seeking a practitioner, look for someone who has experience treating HIV or at least has some knowledge of HIV. Any reputable practitioner should be able to provide references from other healthcare providers. We encourage you to visit complementary practitioners who are open to referring you to a medical healthcare provider.

Because of the transmissibility of HIV and other infections, it is important that the practitioner take standard precautions to protect you and others from infections. This is particularly important for acupuncture and any therapy involving devices that may be used on multiple patients.

Finally, practitioners should be able to clearly explain the purpose of any treatment, any possible side effects or interactions, how long treatment will take and what you should expect. Their ability to communicate will be important to the success of your future relationship.