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Just Diagnosed who should I tell
Oct 10, 2002

I was just diagnosed as HIV+ who do I have to tell in the workplace. I couple of my close friends know at work but that is all. Do I need to inform the Human Resources department or my immediate supervisor. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Response from Ms. Breuer

Thank you for sending in this question, and please read some of the stories on this site, in this forum, of what happened to people who disclosed at work when they didn't have to.

You don't have to tell anyone. You should return to the "close friends" and tell them that all medical information in the workplace is confidential, and they do not have your permission to tell others. Do not tell HR. Do not tell your supervisor. Learn a whole lot more first, but start with learning your rights.

1. You have the right to privacy. Your medical information is yours, not your employer's. 2. You have the right to be evaluated at work based on your performance, not your diagnosis. The best way to protect that right is to keep your diagnosis confidential. 3. You also have the right to tell others at work. But before you do, be very clear on the reasons you're doing it, look around to see how people with other medical conditions/disabilities are treated, and don't be surprised and hurt when someone does something hateful or discriminatory. Think very hard about whether you're up for that. Are you ready to be the HIV information center for your workplace? Are you ready to fight discrimination? Are you ready to learn your employer's policies on life-threatening illness or disability or reasonable accommodation the hard way?

Please do some homework at this workplace first. And please show this response to your close friends. They could bring untold misery down on you by disclosing. If they think that they're "protecting" someone by revealing your status, they need a whole lot more HIV education. Tell them you'll do the protecting--by making sure any sexual partner or needle-sharing partner knows your status.

How well are the first aiders in your workplace trained? Are there any designated first aiders? The last time you saw first aid being done, was the first aider wearing latex gloves? If not, then first aiders are potentially exposing themselves to hepatitis B or C and HIV whenever blood is present. Are you prepared to argue for improved first aid training with HR? Can you do it without disclosing your own status?

See what I mean? This is complicated!!



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