Tips for Support
Someone you work with has been diagnosed as having AIDS. What is AIDS and, as a co-worker of someone having it, what should it mean to you? For answers, it’s necessary to took at the medical definition of AIDS, consider how it is transmitted and relate this information to the environment of the workplace.
AIDS is the acronym for ‘Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome”. A person sick with AIDS has had his or her immune system seriously weakened by a virus. The scientific term most often used to identify the virus is “HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). A person may test positive (“HIV positive” or “HIV+”) for the virus but exhibit none of the infections associated with AIDS. Only those testing HIV positive and exhibiting the associated infections are classified as having AIDS.
Transmission Of AIDS
The AIDS virus is spread through direct transmission to the blood-stream by unsafe (unprotected) sexual contact, through the sharing of hypodermic needles, from tainted blood products and from an HIV+ mother to her fetus.
AIDS And Work
The AIDS virus is not spread through casual contact. In the workplace, your HIV positive coworker need not be restricted from using and sharing office facilities and equipment such as:
- Office or line equipment, including typewriters, computers, or tools.
- Restrooms and shower facilities.
- Telephones and headphones.
- Cafeteria facilities.
- Protective outer clothing.
- Drinking fountain
For persons in the health, food and personal service fields, the same basic precautions taken to prevent the spread of any infectious disease are adequate to prevent the spread of AIDS.
Coping With Fears
If you are feeling fearful and apprehensive about the situation, contact your local public health department or an AIDS hotline for more information about the disease.