Balancing personal safety while providing effective touch therapy for clients diagnosed with HIV and AIDS isn’t difficult with the right education. That education can be learned in the comfort of your own home or office through a home-study massage course that focuses on infectious diseases and, more specifically, HIV and AIDS.

These home-study courses educate massage therapists on the biology of the diseases, stages of development, symptoms, pathogens, modes of transmission and the history of specific diseases and the benefits of bodywork for clients diagnosed with HIV and AIDS.

Some of the courses offered that focus on the diseases also include diagnosis, treatment, transmission, universal precautions for preventing infection, contraindications for HIV-Infected clients, bodywork modification, emotional impact to the practitioner, research findings, along with references and resources for further study. Other courses educate practitioners on the safety precautions to prevent additional transmission of the disease.

Many state massage licensing requirements mandate HIV and AIDS continuing education courses of massage therapists. An Internet search revealed numerous home-study courses a massage therapist can take to fulfill his or her continuing education requirements.

Numerous studies have shown how massage treatment can help HIV and AIDS clients. A study by the Touch Research Institute, “HIV adolescents show improved immune function following massage therapy,” measured the effects of touch therapy on two dozen HIV-positive subjects that were between 13 and 19 years old.

The teens were split into two groups: a massage group and a relaxation group. Those in the massage group received a 20-minute seated massage, twice a week for 12 weeks.

Therapists involved in the study massaged the subjects’ arms, hands, neck and scalp during 20-minute seated massage sessions that were conducted twice a week for 12 weeks. Those in the relaxation group were led through muscle relaxation techniques twice a week for 12 weeks, according to the study.

Researchers reported that the natural killer cell numbers in the subjects increased for the massage group, whose participants also reported feeling less depressed, and improvement in immune function at the end of the 12-week study.

Make sure to check with your national and state licensing bodies to make sure the courses you select are acceptable for continuing education credits.

–Jeremy Maready