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Legal definition of: "active communicable disease?"
Jun 24, 2004

I am HIV+ and I was recently offered a conditional offer of employment for a school district in Florida. This offer is pending completion of certain paperwork.

One of the forms I am required to submit is a Health Certificate. It reads: "This is to certify that on the date indicated, I, a licensed medical physician, examined the individual below and found him/her to be free from any active communicable or mental diseases and from any physical illness that would impair or prevent the performance of duties, functions, or responsibilities in his/her position."

The wording seems vague and broad to me. What do they mean when they say "an active communicable disease?" I am asymptomatic and perfectly able to perform the duties required in the position I have been offered. In addition, yes, HIV is a communicable disease, but, as you know, not through casual contact.

What are the legal ramifications of the school district asking such a question? I have done some internet research and there are a few references "active communicable diseases," but no definitions. The disease most frequently mentioned is tuberculosis.

I realize this a very wordy question. Any advice or counsel you can offer is greatly appreciated! Thank you!

Response from Ms. Breuer

Remember, we're not lawyers here, but my impression of such a question is that it's digging for TB. Your physician should be able to sign the document. HIV would not prevent you from fulfilling all of the essential functions of the job. You're right.

Is your physician an HIV specialist who is clear about this? I recommend asking him/her to complete it during an office visit--even one made just for this purpose--so that you don't get surprised by a different interpretation. But I have never seen this kind of wording stop a person with HIV at the point of a conditional offer of employment.

You are smart to ask! Please ask your physician the same questions. As a person practicing in Florida, s/he may have come across this before.

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