It is a widely known fact that psychology professionals remain prone to ethical dilemmas due to the sensitive nature of the situations they encounter. It is for this reason that strict adherence to the APA Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct is required to ensure the well being of their subjects together with those closest to them. These principles also protect the said individuals from harm, discrimination or any other form of harassment by using voluntary consent to obtain information and ensuring that there is an environment of confidentiality for all those involved (Fisher, 2012, p. 23). It is these principles and codes of conduct that subsequently guide practitioners in decision making whenever they face ethically complex situations. However, it is, important to remember that blurred lines exit in their application, especially when the practitioner is faced with a quandary that proves to be a unique obstacle. Such is the case with Victoria, a 16-year-old Latino subject who is unaware of her HIV status. Her mother, on the other hand, knows the truth but the most recent information concerning Victoria’s sexual activity is a cause of worry owing to her infecting her partner(s).
The staff should first encourage the daughter to inform her mother that she is sexually active. It would be a difficult decision for her but would ultimately lead to a better outcome. Tina is not aware of her daughter’s sexual behavior and holds on to the belief that Victoria will abstain until marriage. The principle of fidelity and responsibility requires all practitioners to be conscientious in their practice which also entails looking out for others. The truth of the matter is that Victoria is HIV positive and occasionally uses condoms with her partner. Her partner is therefore at the risk of contracting the infection as is common among couples who unaware of their status (Eustace RW and Ilagan PR, n.d.). Moreover, this information would influence Tina’s decision on non-disclosure. Presently, she considers her daughter a minor and the main reason why she hasn’t revealed the truth yet. It is for this reason that Tina must inform her daughter to ensure that necessary precautions are taken to ensure that her boyfriend is also protected in this scenario. It is common for HIV positive individuals to dread revealing their status due to the level of intimacy and the anticipated reaction of their partners (“Strategies and Outcomes of HIV Status Disclosure in HIV-Positive Young Women with Abuse Histories,” n.d.). Nonetheless, the boyfriend has a right to be protected from infection, which squarely lies in the decision that will be made by Tina.
The principle of autonomy would dictate that Victoria has every right to know of her diagnosis. It is, however, important to acknowledge that minors can give assent to the matter, but not consent. It is the parents who hold all the rights and responsibilities when dealing with a minor. The reasons why Tina needs to disclose her HIV status and that of her daughter is because she has a right to know what is occurring in her body. Tina, as the primary caregiver needs to make a decision in the best interest of her daughter and those around her when it is clear that there is imminent danger. Beneficence requires the practitioners to safeguard the welfare of their patients. Additionally, disclosure has a positive effect as it will increase Victoria’s sense of self-sufficiency. She would, therefore, be empowered which would facilitate her in taking care of herself and taking control of situations and those she interacts with including her boyfriend.
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