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Returning to work after AIDS diagnosis
Jan 13, 2004

Hello,

I am wondering how to make the best of my situation. I was fired from my last job due to lost time for care of Ulcerative cholitis. In the hospital, I was told I had HIV+ and was an AIDS.

I was never in pain or problems until my bleeding ulcer caused anemia.

I am back in school to gain another degree and medical license.

I am concerned about how to best present myself when dealing with acquiring benefits. Currently I am on SSDI and COBRA. I plan on explaing my time out as a medical necessity from Ulcerative cholitis but i know that hospitals are warry to hire AIDS persons.

So far there has been no problem with credentialing but i am concerned that I will not be able to get full time consistent employment when it is determined that I have had an AIDS diagnosis.

I have a rapid climbing Tcell count (from 14 to 281 in less then 12 months) and great health without unusual complications.

What is my best approach?

Response from Ms. Breuer

What a T-cell success story! Congratulations.

The part of your question that I can't find is the part where you acknowledge that your diagnosis is your business. You are not required to disclose your HIV status in applying for a job, even at a hospital, unless you want a job as a surgeon. Lead with your SKILLS. What job do you want to do in a hospital? What special training, skills and passion do you bring to that job? That's where you start.

If you need any kind of accommodation of your illness, or if you just want your hospital to know your status from the gate, then bring up the subject after you've been given an offer of employment. Rather than dropping it as a bomb, present it in the context of asking their advice about how best to handle your condition.

I realize that sounds very directive. It's a response to your question about best approach. The HIV-positive people I know who work in hospitals have handled it this way. I strongly urge you to lead with your skills, not your diagnosis. They're hiring for skills, and they can accommodate your diagnosis.


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