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Should A Employer Who Is HIV Positive Tell Their Boss Of Their Status?

Discussion in 'The Proving Grounds' started by Miggz, Jun 13, 2009.

  1. Miggz

    Miggz Pancake Sandwiches

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    What is HIV?

    HIV is a virus that is transmitted from person to person through the exchange of body fluids such as blood, semen, breast milk and ******l secretions. Sexual contact is the most common way to spread HIV AIDS, but it can also be transmitted by sharing needles when injecting drugs, or during childbirth and breastfeeding. As HIV AIDS reproduces, it damages the body's immune system and the body becomes susceptible to illness and infection. There is no known cure for HIV infection.

    Source
    http://aids.about.com/od/aidsfactsheets/a/whathiv.htm

    More on how HIV is transmitted.


    Transmission of HIV

    The most common ways that people become infected with HIV are:

    * by having sexual intercourse with an infected partner

    * by injecting drugs using a needle or syringe which has already been used by someone who is infected.

    * by blood transfusions (it is a lower risk than in the past, but still a risk)

    HIV can be passed on in these ways because the virus is present in the sexual fluids and blood of infected people. If infected blood or sexual fluid gets into your body, then you can become infected.But it depends on the type of body fluid. Saliva and sweat contain the HIV virus, but not in quantities sufficient for transmission.

    Source
    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_is_HIV_transmitted

    The Debate

    Ok so as the title asks, should a HIV positive employee tell their boss of their illness? In my opinion a employee should be responsible and inform their employer of their status. I know everyone has things about themselves that they consider as "private." Sexuality is a obvious example. If a homosexual, for whatever reason, tells their boss of their sexuality, then there really isn't anything hazardous about it. Homosexuality isn't "transmitted, nor is it a mental illness that can hinder one's ability to function at work. Of course, just because a person has HIV doesn't necessarily mean they won't be able to work.

    Let's discuss the pros at telling your boss of your illness. Depending on the type of person your boss is, they just might be extremely supportive. They might adjust your work schedule to your convenience to make things easier for you. Not to mention your boss' respect for you can increase because you're trusting he/she with this private information. Your boss can also take action in decreasing the chance of infection, without severely decreasing one's role. Of course this all depends on the type of job. Let's take a HIV+ chief for example. Perhaps their boss will recommend then to avoid using knives, or other sharp objects to reduce the chance of bleeding. Something simple like that. Also, people with HIV are protected under the Disability Discrimination Act.

    Now for the cons of telling your boss. The most obvious one is your work colleagues feeling extremely uncomfortable around you. Its a shame when people treat people infect with HIV as some sort of animal. I find that the people who are clueless about HIV are the one's who act irrational. HIV+ individuals should be treated with care and respect. bv

    So let us discuss this scenario. Should the HIV+ employee tell their boss of their illness? Technically you the infected individual doesn't have to. But on the other hand, your boss has the right to ask you if you have any condition that will interfere with your job.
  2. pacmansays

    pacmansays Smash Debater

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    Hmmm, interesting idea Miggz: good debate topic.

    I think at this point in time an employee has the right to keep his ailment private if he so chooses as I believe in a general workplace it is unlikely he will be able to transmit the virus.

    But certain jobs such as construction work might have the chance of causing bleeding and if he could possibly transmit the disease then perhaps he should tell his boss.

    I think if we get better laws in allowing the boss to not discriminate this employee at all then it would be better if he told his boss and if he can do so it complete secrecy so his workmates do not have to know.

    Hmm, I'm still on the fence though, its privacy vs. the possibe safety of others
  3. Neisan

    Neisan Smash Debater

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    You've got a misunderstanding as to how HIV is spread. HIV can not be spread through a cut, unless both you (Not you in particular, but the person with aids) and another person are both cut, and you manage to get your blood "in to" theirs. It's a VERY slim chance.

    On top of that, there is something called "Post Exposure Treatment" which can be used to prevent the disease if used fast enough. Normally used in a workplace environment.
    http://www.aids.org/factSheets/156-Treatment-After-Exposure-to-HIV-PEP.html

    So no, the risk of spreading HIV in the workplace is similar to the risk anywhere else. It's for that reason that I don't think that an employee should be required to tell their employer, unless in a medical profession (Doctor, nurse, in a hospital, etc.). The risk is minimal anywhere else. They could if they would like obviously though.

    Sources:
    http://www.avert.org/faq1.htm#top
    http://www.mnaidsproject.org/learn/transmission.htm
    http://www.avert.org/howcan.htm
  4. Miggz

    Miggz Pancake Sandwiches

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    Well I am highly allergic to peanuts and I work at an Aquarium. The chances of me encountering peanuts at my job is not very high (considering my job doesn't require me to cook/prepare human food), but yet my boss feels its necessary for me to carry an epipen. Now if someone brings a peanut butter sandwich and the smell of it sets me off...then I'd be in trouble without my epipen. Now since my boss knows off my allergies, he's made it known to the people I work with, so there really isn't any surprises.

    Now of course the AIDS virus cannot be transmitted via the air, but the one thing both scenarios have in common is the slim chance of it happening. Nonetheless, serious safety precautions can be enforced to ensure the safety of the workers.

    My overall point is, better safe then sorry.
  5. pacmansays

    pacmansays Smash Debater

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    I was aware of how it requires both people to be cut but like you said its very unlikely in most workplaces. Only matters in certain jobs such as medical ones as you said where the chances of transmission are increased
  6. M.K

    M.K Level 55

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    Of course it should be reported to the employer. If not for the medical safety of the other employees, it would prevent an employee to pass it on to customers as well.
    There is no "good" side in NOT reporting it, unless the employer uses the fact that the potential employee is HIV positive to exclude him from a fair job opportunity. The information should be required, but discrimnating against HIV positive potential employers is so vague that it can not be closely monitored and/or enforced correctly.
  7. Neisan

    Neisan Smash Debater

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    Terrible example. First of all, you could use personal responsability and just know to carry your epipen (which btw, aids doesn't have anything like this, so the point that you could use it at any point is moot). Also, a peanut butter allergy is MUCH less embarrassing, and has a much less chance of you being discriminated against. Unless you work in a peanut factory, your boss won't fire you.

    The chance of you encountering a peanut butter sandwich or anything else with peanuts is most likely much higher than the chance of you and another person both being cut, rubbing at the cut, and managing to get aids.
  8. Miggz

    Miggz Pancake Sandwiches

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    You totally missed my point.

    First, why can't you use "personal responsibility" and simply tell your boss so safer precautions can be made in the workplace? Yes, getting AIDS will be less likely, but my point was...they are both nonetheless very possible!

    By the way, it isn't up to you to decide which is more embarrassing to have. To this day I avoid having dinner at some of my closest friend's houses because I am too ashamed to admit what I am allergic to. It makes me feel like a burden. Quite frankly, I get poked fun at a lot for all my food allergies by the people I work with. Sure I laugh with them at times, but it isn't something I would go around admitting to everyone! I also have asthma and I got a diving license and everything. But my boss won't let m dive because of it, so now I feel it was all for nothing. So yes, in some places, you can get EASILY discriminated by such sicknesses.

    So again, in both cases, you can take "personal responsibility" and tell your boss of your allergies/disease and make sure he or she makes the workplace more safer.
  9. Neisan

    Neisan Smash Debater

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    Because chances are nothing is going to be the same. You think your boss is going to have the same reaction to peanut butter allergies as to HIV? And at the bold, I was sure I already established the fact that the chances are incredibly slim, not "very possible"

    So, you can't go around telling people you have a peanut allergy, and you think people with HIV can be open about their disease to their employer? And so you admit they can be discriminated against?

    You're seeming very hypocritical here. Your peanut allergy is bad enough to not tell most people ,and to be incredibly embarrassed (and discriminated against) and HIV isn't , or worse?
  10. Miggz

    Miggz Pancake Sandwiches

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    Oh dear, I think there is a little bit of miss-communication. I'll try ad make things a bit clearer.

    What I am saying is neither of us can actually say "one is more embarrassing, then the other." I'll admit that I would rather have my allergies then HIV, but nonetheless...I'd feel embarrassed either way. Despite how much worse HIV may seem to be then allergies, that's a separate category when considering an individual's respective embarrassment level. Perhaps my embarrassment towards my allergies are indeed illogical, or silly. They simply make me feel insecure. But it doesn't matter how silly my embarrassment over my allergies are, I still feel that way. So no, I am not saying people with HIV have a easier time, of course not. Everyone interprets (in this case, embarrassment) things differently.
  11. Neisan

    Neisan Smash Debater

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    And so your argument is? You haven't clarified anything other than you think they aren't equal in embarrassment.
  12. M.K

    M.K Level 55

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    Exactly.
    What bothers me about your posts is that you sympathize with the HIV-positive employee by comparing it to a food allergy. You realize that a food allergy shouldn't impact your life more than what you consume? HIV is much, much more serious than a food allergy. Whether or not you can sympathize with the infected is a moot point, since the feelings you share are so general that they shouldn't even be comparable at all.
    Also, you say that you wouldn't go around announcing that you have a food allergy? What is this? Obviously you have to tell people who are willing to serve you food before they kill you, so why shouldn't an HIV-infected person have to tell an employer before they gain access to the job and POSSIBLY transfer the virus to other employees or customers of some sort.
    The best course of action for an employer is to try and minimize all potential health risks for the employed, and if hiring an HIV-infected person for a specific job could prove harmful, than it should be considered as a possible reason for not being hired. It's sad, but sadly, it's for the good of the whole.
  13. Aesir

    Aesir Smash Debater

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    Cool except you've run into a problem here.

    What health risk? Unless you're applying for a job in prostitution how do you think someone is going to contract HIV? HIV is a very hard thing to get if you don't engage in polygamous relationships.
  14. Miggz

    Miggz Pancake Sandwiches

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    Ok first, please quote something from my previous posts that make me suggest that an HIV-infected person shouldn't tell their boss of their status? Cause I am looking at my posts and I clearly state that the individual has a responsibility to tell their boss, and they should. You guys seem to be focusing on the less-important aspect of my debate, which was the level of embarrassment of the respective illnesses. What my OVERALL point was both scenarios (HIV and food allergies) have possible solutions to make the workplace safer for everyone, assuming the person is responsible enough to mention their illnesses to their boss.

    By the way, you realize that the mere SMELL of some foods can trigger a food allergy, yes? The mere smell of peanut butter is fatal to me. So yeah, you have to realize that a food allergy can be serious, consumed or not. I understand that a food allergy is not as serious as HIV, but please don't try and make it seem like a "minor hindrance." There are different degrees of food allergies. Oh if you are thinking I am contradicting myself somehow, I'm not. I still believe that everyone, no matter how the degrees of seriousness may vary, has different levels of embarrassment. So yeah.
  15. Lythium

    Lythium underachiever

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    You cannot discount the embarrassment of having HIV compared to a food allergy. Good try, but they just don't compare. No one is going to discriminate you for having a peanut butter allergy because it doesn't carry the negative connotations of HIV, such as unprotected sex, drug use, etc.

    In the case of a food allergy, yes, there are possible solutions that everyone can contribute to make the workplace safer. I believe you said that you carry an epipen, which is a preventive measure and other employees know not to bring peanut products. However, unless a job has a high risk of transmitting HIV, why should a person disclose personal information that could jeopardize their relationship with their employer or coworkers? I agree that it is their responsibility to protect themselves and others around them, but unless the infected individuals are prostitutes or work in a medical profession, I really don't see the point.

    No one is denying the seriousness of your food allergy. But what you're saying here doesn't make sense. Someone with a food allergy can be more embarrassed by their illness than someone with HIV? I really don't see why. There's nothing to be ashamed about with a food allergy. It's certainly not your fault, and it carries no negative connotations other than you can't enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

    Your HIV/food allergy analogy doesn't work.
  16. Purple

    Purple Hi guys!

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    I know this kind of goes against the arguement entirely. But i feel that the whole department that you work with should know of you being HIV+ instead of just the boss. The boss won't always (although this is rare) be around. When he's not, you can't expect an employee to understand another employee's situation without actually knowing what's going on.

    I say telling your 'boss' however is fine in most office jobs and situations where you're not around sharp objects on a regular basis. However cooking jobs will more than likely get you fired than having an understandable boss. It's way to dangerous to be not only around sharp objects but also foods being hiv+

    Food allergies can kill you, you can get to the point to where your throat swells up and you die, and it can be a hassle on other employees to make sure you don't intake or are near such products. Allergies came straight through birth, they did nothing wrong, they just have it. Same thing (sometimes) with HIV. The thing about HIV it's only passed through blood, which can be for the most part handled pretty easily. While allergic reactions can't be stopped once started, which is what's embarrassing.


    At least this is what i think Miggz is trying to get at. Not bringing down your statement at all.
  17. DyceDarg

    DyceDarg Smash Cadet

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    I do want to point out something here. Have you ever heard somebody confront you and tell you "I'm HIV positive"? It's not something that can be talked about easily, even with the people you're closest to. If I was the person in this scenario, I wouldn't tell my boss (However, I'm also a REALLY shy person, who doesn't tend to tell people deep things like this). A con I see, having dealt with different prejudices through my life is what if your boss thinks (if you're a male) gay [even if you're not]? S/He could easily be homophobic, or just uncomfortable with people s/he believes gay. Another thing as Aesir pointed out

    If your job was in fact prostitution well...that's a different debate entirely. But HIV isn't air-transferable, and [I hope] you're not sharing drug needles with your co-workers. If you do get to the point where sexual relations might be plausible, then this person is no longer just your boss but someone closer, at which point you SHOULD tell them. Like I said, personally I wouldn't, but that's just my two cents.
  18. Purple

    Purple Hi guys!

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    Don't forget things such as blood transfer. For example, working at a deli, If you cut yourself and it happens to get on someone else through many forms of cross-contamination. Or working in construction where injuries can happen all the time.

    As i said before, the only job where this isn't truly plausible is something like a office job.
  19. xLeafybug =D

    xLeafybug =D Smash Master

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    HIV doesn't spread like the flu. It's not something easy to contract outside of unprotected sex or their blood contacting yours (Blood transfer, shared needles, etc.). It's none of your employer's business, unless you work somewhere like a blood bank. It's completely fine for someone who's HIV+ to work in some of the places you people have stated so far.
  20. Purple

    Purple Hi guys!

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    the idea that getting knicked in the thumb or cutting a finger off in the deli can be a traumatizing problem for everyone is what i was trying to get at here. It's definately a huge problem if you have the possibility of being cut by equipment.
  21. pacmansays

    pacmansays Smash Debater

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    No it would have to be blood on blood transfer, not just the HIV positive employee getting a cut.

    It would mean someone directly inserting one person's blood into another. So that's why sharing needles is such a dangerous thing to do
  22. Purple

    Purple Hi guys!

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    I understand that, i guess i didn't write it correctly in my previous post. So are you saying that the possibility of someone's blood on a table coming intact with a cut on someone's say arm or hand is impossible?
  23. DyceDarg

    DyceDarg Smash Cadet

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    The HIV virus dies after 10 seconds of exposure to oxygen. Needles are only dangerous because the blood that the needle received is actually inside of the tip which is insulated so that air doesn't come in, thus the blood is basically as 'fresh' as when it went into the needle. That's why the possibility of having a skin-wound transfer is highly unlikely, unless you were to touch open wounds with each other, and I can't really think of a scenario that entails that?
  24. Purple

    Purple Hi guys!

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    well blood brothers? :p.

    But in all seriousness. not being salty about the debate or anything, but do you have citation of that the hiv virus dies after 10 seconds?
  25. DyceDarg

    DyceDarg Smash Cadet

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    Yeah, I learned it at a mandatory STD/STI seminar at my school. I'll look for a substantial source on the net, but I'm 95% sure that's a fact. This also applies to blood-donors as the blood is kept in a sealed package in a storage area. (But most blood donors are tested anyways)
  26. xLeafybug =D

    xLeafybug =D Smash Master

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    I'm not sure on how long exactly, as it's been a couple of years since I learned about this, but I know for a fact the number was around that time.
  27. .Marik

    .Marik is a social misfit

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    Long time since I posted here.

    Well, in regards to the question, it depends.

    In a career that handles food or medical supplies, I would say it's a mandatory procedure that should be practiced, due to health concerns. The boss also has a right to keep that sensitive information private, if they continue to let the specific individual work at a destined workplace.

    Any other career? No, I wouldn't say it's necessary for anybody to know. If the disease isn't at a point where it's affecting the particular person from doing assigned tasks, I would reckon it's simply nobody's business.

    You can tell people you have cancer, it's much harder to tell someone you're HIV positive. Society as a whole is very ignorant and act like HIV is an airborne disease.
  28. pacmansays

    pacmansays Smash Debater

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    I just want to add a paranoia about HIV and AIDS exists today (though a lot less than originally) because its a scary disease with no cure. People often believe it can be transfered in manners that are nigh on impossible and perhaps the myths surrounding it should be demystified
  29. Purple

    Purple Hi guys!

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    I agree, but i'm just saying that there's a possibility that the disease can be passed alot more likely through blood transfusion or through cuts, etc. And cuts are more likely through food jobs and now that i think about it medical jobs, shoudln't the information at least by known by the supervisor so incase of an accident was to happen is can be treated correctly?
  30. xLeafybug =D

    xLeafybug =D Smash Master

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    I'm pretty sure we've gone through this. It may be necessary, but it depends on the job.
  31. pacmansays

    pacmansays Smash Debater

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    I'd definately agree with medical jobs as there they have to deal with bodily fluids, however I don't think food jobs require it. However, I'm not an expert in either field :laugh: so I guess it depends on whether its a danger to that job in particular

    The main issue brought up in this debate is that even though some jobs it may be necessary, would an employee want the stigma of possibly being seen as a danger by their fellow workers...
    EDIT: sorry about signature, working on getting rid of it

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