Adrian Martins, a CNHC registered Massage Therapist, writes about his experience working at the Terrence Higgins Trust as their Complementary Therapy Coordinator...
As a young and fresh-faced Massage Therapy graduate (15 years ago, eek!) I always knew I wanted to support people living with HIV. I grew up in a part of Canada with little exposure to people living with HIV. As a young teenager, I heard the stories of how HIV and AIDS was affecting the gay community and always thought to myself ‘what could I do to help make a positive difference in their lives?’.
As I grew older and eventually became part of the LGBTQ community, I have met many good friends and acquaintances living with HIV. I saw first hand how they were being affected by the harsh medications of the time. In response to this I decided to volunteer as a Massage Therapist with The AIDS Committee of Toronto in the hope of helping others integrate complementary therapies into their care regime. I wanted to help and support them to maintain their health in ways that go beyond addressing only the physical impact of living with HIV. Little did I know how the positive impact of volunteering at the AIDS Committee of Toronto would propel me into a career in the HIV sector as a Complementary Therapist.
In 2017, I moved to London where I was lucky enough to get a position as the Complementary Therapies Coordinator and Massage Therapist at Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity. I am extremely lucky to work with a team of staff and volunteers that put their heart and soul into every bit of work they do there.
In my role at Terrence Higgins Trust, I coordinate the provision of high quality, caring, and professional complementary therapy services for people living with HIV. I also treat service users as a certified and CNHC registered Massage Therapist, and prefer for new therapists we employ to be registered with CNHC.
The charity offers a range of therapies provided by fully certified and insured volunteer therapists including Massage Therapy, Hypnotherapy and Shiatsu Therapy both at a low-cost fee, and free for those experiencing financial hardships.
Today, although HIV can be managed effectively with medication and regular check-ups, many people living with HIV seek out complementary therapies in their efforts to stay healthy, boost their immune system, prevent illness, and delay the onset of HIV-related conditions. They can also help with relaxation and ease tensions that are emotional as well as physical. Many complementary therapies have an immediate appeal because they emphasise a holistic approach to health, and provide wellness regimens that aren’t offered as a part of standard HIV treatment protocol.
Click here for more information about the Complementary therapy service at Terrence Higgins Trust