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HIV + Waitress concerns me
Nov 17, 2000

I am the owner of a restaurant in Pennsylvania. I recently discovered that one of my waitresses is HIV +. Does Pennsylvania have any restrictions on her working with food, and must I adhere to any precautions to stay within the law? Am I required to notify the Dept. Of Health or anyone else? Thanks

Response from Ms. Gabriel

I am so glad you asked your questions here first. You didn't say how you "discovered" one of your waitresses is HIV+. I hope it is because she confided in you and that you will assure her that you will not disclose that information to anyone else without her permission. That is one of the laws you must adhere to.

There are no states that restrict HIV+ individuals from working with food -- and with good reason. They do not pose a risk through normal workplace activities. Here are the basics: HIV can be transmitted by four body fluids: blood, semen, vaginal fluids & breast milk. One of these fluids has to come into contact with your blood stream in order to cause an infection. This can happen by (1)having unprotected sex with an infected partner; (2)sharing contaminated needles; (3)receiving infected blood; or (4)being born to an infected mother. HIV does not last outside the body -- exposure to heat, light and air will all kill it.

As you know, universal precautions (using a barrier whenever blood is present) and frequent hand washing are essential to the safety of employees and patrons in a food service setting.

You are required to keep the information regarding an employee's medical diagnosis confidential and that includes the Department of Health.

Thank you for your question.

Lynne Gabriel

Where to find information about privacy rights amongst HIV infected patients

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