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Pre-Employment Medical Questionnaire and Disclosure of HIV
Sep 18, 2002

I have been HIV+ Asymptomatic for 17 years and have been working as a waiter/bartender the entire time. I recently applied for and was offered a position as a waiter and was given a packet of forms to fill out and return to corporate headquarters before being hiring becomes official. In the packet of forms is a "Pre-Employment Medical History Questionnaire" "Note the wording (Pre-employment)" There is a two-part question that troubles me from a moral standpoint regarding disclosure of my HIV status. The questions are: 1. During the past 5 years, have you ever or do you a.) been treated for or told you have any sickness or injury? (yes or no) If yes, describe and b.) have you ever consulted, or been examined or treated by a physician? (yes or no) If yes, give name and address of physician. The form also includes a release of medical information statement that I must sign giving permission for this company to obtain my medical records if they so choose. I can ethically and morally answer NO to part 1a.) because I have never had any illness or injury associated with HIV or otherwise and in all other ways am fully qualified without physical limitations to do the job; but if I answer part 1b.) YES and give the name of my doctor and sign the release of medical information statement, the company can find out my HIV status anyway. There seems to be no way around disclosing my HIV status and I'm afraid that by doing so, the company may refuse to complete the hiring process using the defense that I pose a liability for them should I have an open cut, etc. and am handling food. What are my legal responsibilities in this situation and your advice on how to handle this. Thank you.

Response from Ms. Breuer

You actually need to answer both parts yes. HIV is itself a sickness. Here's the best way to manage this: reply that you have a condition that is under treatment and under control. And remind your physician when you provide his/her number that your diagnosis is confidential; your doc should address only your ability to fulfill the essential functions of your job, not your diagnosis. You do not pose a threat to any customer. That should be your doc's bottom line. HIV should never come up in the conversation.

Many docs need careful reminding about this because they aren't expected to be specialists in the ADA. That's your job in this situation. You can navigate this paperwork without naming your condition.

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