Dec 11, 1998
I`ve been on ssdi for a little more than two years now I am doing well on all these meds,I want to return to work. I`ve read a lot of the questions you have answered about disclosure when looking for work, don`t tell or don`t volunteer any information unless you are asked has been the answer you gave many times. Well it sound easy just to ignore the past two years during an interview, but not likely to happen. when I INTERVIEWED people for employment my primary focus was on what they had been doing before coming to us for a job, where did they work? were they fired? And the really big question, WHY DID YOU LEAVE.I expect to be accomadated for doctor appointments infusions etc. It seems not to disclose was a reason for leaving my last job now that I look back. it was really stressfull!!!my thoughts have been I don`t want that picnic all over again. can`t I be hiv postive and out and still work? Or am I being to optimistic? people with other disabilities work don`t they?
Response from Ms. Breuer
Lots of questions in that question! Let's take it step by step. First, congratulations on your medical successes. I'm glad you're feeling better. Now, you need a reply you can be comfortable with to the question about why you left your last job and what you have been doing. Would you be comfortable replying that you left to deal with a serious family illness and you are now free to return to work? It's entirely true without being a disclosure.
Second, the question of accommodations. There is no need to ask for an accommodation before you are offered the job. The interviewer can ask you whether you have any condition that would prevent you from performing the essential functions of the job. If the answer is no, then say no. The need for an accommodatioan does not preclude you from doing the job.
When you need to request the accommodation, have that conversation with the HR person. Begin by reminding her/him of your expectation of confidentiality, then indicate that you have a covered disability and are requesting an accommodation. Be prepared to support your request with a doctor's note documenting that you are being treated for a covered disability. There is no need to name the disability! Remind the health care provider of that, by the way.
Yes, you can be HIV+ and still work. It's important for you to know your rights and responsibilities at work, so I encourage you to ask the National AIDS Fund for a copy of their booklet "What About My Rights?" It will spell everything out for you. They're at 202.408.4848. Ask for the Workplace Resource Center to request a copy.
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