HR and AIDS at the workplace

When it was first diagnosed, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was seen initially as one of the deadly diseases of the modern world. However, greater understanding of the disease has cleared many misconceptions about the disease. Since AIDS is something that many sections of the population, especially those who lead normal lives and work for a livelihood like most others and thus have to come into contact with other people at the workplace; it is necessary to understand how laws about people with AIDS at the workplace work, and how other employees need to address and deal with them.

A brief understanding of the disease and how it spreads

AIDS is a potentially serious condition in which the person with it has a highly weakened natural immunity against disease. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus responsible for weakening the immune system. Many people with AIDS show no symptoms for several years after contracting the HIV infection. They then reach a stage when the body is prone to unusual infections or tumors which are not characteristic of healthy persons. AIDS manifests itself when the HIV viral infection reaches its end stage. What is important to remember is that it is not AIDS that is not transmitted; it is the HIV virus.

We also need to understand how AIDS spreads, to get an idea of how to deal with people with AIDS at the workplace. It is spread in either of three ways: deep sexual contact with a person who has the virus; through the use of shared blood products or blood or through needles that could have touched the bloodstream, and from an infected mother to her child.

Laws revolve around the ways in which AIDS spreads

This gives a clear understanding of how to treat a person with AIDS. In fact, it is the nature of spread of this disease that is at the root of laws concerning employees with AIDS at the workplace. The basis to an understanding of how to deal with AIDS-infected people at the workplace is provided in the first factor that facilitates the spread of AIDS listed above: only through intimate and deep sexual contact. So, AIDS is NOT spread through casual contact such as handshake, sharing of the same kerchief, sneezing, coughing, and sharing the same toilet and so on. However, in some workplaces, especially those that involve dealing with blood samples and other related sectors, some precaution such as use of gloves is recommended.

Discrimination is illegal

Laws make it clear that a person with AIDS should not be discriminated both at the time of employment and in the way the person is treated at the workplace. The employer is not required to disclose to other employees about the existence of AIDS in any employee, unless it becomes necessary to. If it is revealed when not necessary; the employer could face a lawsuit.

The law also prohibits the denial of benefits to the employee with AIDS in the way they are given to other employees. If the person with AIDS is denied the opportunity for growth by being denied any work for the sole reason that he or she has AIDS, this is also illegal and liable for legal action.

References:

http://www.stanford.edu/group/viva/facts/AIDS_in_the_workplace.html

http://www.bizfilings.com/toolkit/sbg/office-hr/workplace-safety/AIDS-other-medical-safety-concerns-in-workplace.aspx

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