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HIV testing in the workplace.
Mar 12, 1998

Do you think that HIV testing should be mandatory in the workplace? Is it the person't right to privacy not to be tested or is it the right of the employers and others involved to know?

Response from Ms. Breuer

Workplace HIV testing is not a matter of opinion; it's a matter of law. Everyone's medical information is confidential in the workplace, and that has been true since long before the AIDS epidemic began. There is no right to know anyone else's medical condition, whether it's HIV or multiple sclerosis or arthritis or cancer or any other diagnosis, and there is no need to know whether someone at work has a bloodborne illness. In case of injury, the simple rule is to treat all human blood as if it's infectious. That protects the first aider in all cases.

Mandatory HIV testing at work would have no practical application: once an employer knew, what would the employer do with the information? Discriminate? To what end? What would co-workers do differently? If they understand HIV, the correct answer is "nothing." People with HIV, like people without HIV, have the right to work as long as they can fulfill the essential functions of the job. Evaluations must be based on performance, not on diagnosis.

Nancy Breuer



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