AIDS is a disease which affects the human immune system due to the HIV virus. Though this disease is being researched abundantly, there is still no breakthrough as regarding its cure. AIDS counselors are a very important part of making people aware of the disease and also as a support group for people already infected with AIDS. Their role is vital for the patient’s and his family’s acceptance of the disease and also for them to try and lead as normal a life as possible.
AIDS Counselor Job Responsibilities
One of the responsibilities of an AIDS counselor is to impart information about the diseases as well as to provide detailed instructions for its prevention and among the public, the workplace and within the family. To this end, the Aids counselor’s job entails making individual aware of their risk of contracting the disease and transmitting the virus to others.
Aids counselors also prepare an individual who has been advised to take an AIDS test. They help the individual understand the meaning of the test and also the implications in case of a positive diagnosis. The counselors also give support and assist those already diagnosed with the disease by talking to them of the problems they face in society as well as sometimes simply hearing them out. It is important to make AIDS patients feel accepted and normally they get very little acceptance from their family and friends as most of them are treated like outcasts. Here the counselor’s role of an understanding and accepting human being cannot be undervalued.
An AIDS counselor also lends support to those people who have just had a friend or a family member diagnosed with AIDS or for those who have lost a friend or family member to the disease. Practical advice on how to deal with day to day problems encountered by AIDS patients are also another area that AIDS counselors must excel in. This can cover extensive domains like finding legal advisers, medical services and housing.
Volunteers can contribute to being an AIDS counselor by assisting organizations that work for the benefit of AIDS patients. They help by being a friend to the patient and assisting them in their homes and also helping them with household tasks. Some counselors work exclusively on telephone hotlines offering advice and support as well as information about AIDS.
AIDS Counselor Training and Education Requirements
There is no formal training for an AIDS counselor. Rather than a formal education in counseling, experience may be more important. Although general counseling courses do help as they train the counselor to be patient and develop the gift of listening while the sick person vents out his feelings. The training will also help the counselor to recognize in which areas to get involved and where not to. However, the most important requirement in a counselor would still be experience. Experience can be gained by volunteering with organizations that support AIDS patients. Such organizations welcome volunteers and give them the initial training that helps them to understand the ground realities of the disease.
Graduates in psychology and medicine related course graduates have more opportunities of becoming AIDS counselors with organizations promoting prevention of AIDS. A post graduate degree in social work, general counseling and public health can also help tremendously towards getting the job of an AIDS counselor.
AIDS Counselor Salary and Wages
Salaries and wages for AIDS counselors depends on many factors like the prevalence of AIDS is the particular country under consideration. In a country like the US, the average expected salary for an AIDS counselor with a post graduate degree and at least one year’s relevant experience can be around $44,000 per annum.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
AIDS Counselor Certifications
To work as an AIDs counselor with a particular state’s public health department, you will need to be certified in HIV counseling, with a specialization in prevention and education. The certification comprises three phases. The first phase consists of a 3 day course in HIV medical and legal basics with then goes on to a 5 day workshop on HIV Prevention Counseling Training. Thereafter you will need to gain 6 months experience in pre and post counseling. Phase II is when you get more experience as well as three to five coaching sessions. Phase III involves a role play test of HIV pre and post diagnosis scenario after which you will receive a provisional certificate and six months later the Active certificate of Training.
AIDS Counselor Professional Associations
Although there are no exclusive AIDS counselor associations, some of the major professional counselor associations in the US like the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), The National Association of Social Workers and The American School Counselor Association offer invaluable support to AIDS counselors.