A young boy aged 14 is diagnosed with HIV, however, because of his age his parents do not want to disclose this information to him. The young person used to receive regular treatments as an outpatient in a local hospital, however, since he turned 14, he and his parents have no longer engaged with the service. After 7 months of non-engagement with the hospital the hospital social worker refers the case to the Local Authority’s initial response and assessment team and the case is allocated to a social worker.
Initial assessment indicates that the family have not yet told the boy that he has HIV. The parents are quite aggressive and state that they will not tell him about the situation as it will destroy his future and crush his dreams. The parents have a family advocate who insists that such privacy of information is within the family’s human rights.
The young person has a girlfriend and there is the risk that their relationship might be intimate. The young person has been assessed as Gillick competent. The social worker explains the risk factors for the young person and his girlfriend to the parents and the family advocate.and tells the parents that their son is Gillick competent and should be informed. However, the parents and the family advocate insist that they do not believe him to be Gillick competent and would like to keep this information from him.
In your view what is the appropriate course of action?
What do you recommend the social worker should do?
Should the social worker inform the boy against the wishes of his parents?
What is the basis for your recommendation?
An added question that was raised by Dr. Brian Stout and we thought would be worth considering is: Should the social worker tell the son’s girlfriend? If yes, how and in what sense? If no, why not?
Join our Case Study debate and share your views on Sunday (13 May) at 6:00 PM London / 3:00 PM New York @SWSCmedia.