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Mandatory HIV Testing
Apr 25, 2003

I recently started with a new company and received my Employee Handbook. I was surprised to read that they have an "AIDS POLICY". I've gathered from the comments of older employees that it is new this year. It basically states they will not discriminate based on an AIDS diagnosis or HIV exposure. It seems to have been written without any legal consultation and seems out of place. It states that there will not be any mandatory employee testing. Could they mandate HIV testing? This is a smaller family owned manufacturing company. It caught my attention because my husband has AIDS (no one here knows) and the policy refers to "those who have been exposed to the virus". As I understand it HIV/AIDS status or exposure to such is no business of an employer, am I correct? Could they change their policy in the future to require HIV testing? Would I have a legal right to refuse? It is a topic I choose to handle with my physician. Thank you for your time. This site was a lifeline when my husband was first diagnosed and I recommend it to anyone looking for information.

Response from Ms. Breuer

It's entirely possible that your employer was encouraged to include an "AIDS policy" in the employee handbook just to make it clear that they will not discriminate on the basis of HIV status. That has become fairly common. (Now it's time for actually not discriminating to become more common!)

If they decided to mandate employee HIV testing, they would be up against a standard that demands that the job be intimately related to HIV status. All of you would rise up in protest, I hope, and they'd back down. Health assessments have to be related to the essential functions of the job and have to apply to everyone. You don't say exactly what kind of work you all do, but I'll bet you're not all surgeons.

You do have a right to refuse to disclose confidential medical information. In any situation where an employer seems to be asking for it, please check with us or with an attorney before replying. They can legitimately ask about your functional limitations, but not about your diagnosis.

Yes, of course you choose to handle this topic with your physician. Physicians are equipped to respond to information about diagnosis. Supervisors at a manufacturing company are equipped to respond to information about what you can and cannot do--those are functional limitations.

Thank you for your kind words about the site. We volunteer because we want to be a lifeline.



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