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HIV testing of restaurant employee
Jul 29, 2004

I am concerned because my husband and I own a restaurant and one of our cooks is a former prostitute. Can we legally require her to divulge her HIV status? This is a small town and the rumors that she is infected are hurting our business.

Response from Ms. Breuer

You cannot compel your employee to disclose her HIV status. What you can do is make a big deal about providing current, reliable training on bloodborne pathogens for your entire staff, so that everyone knows how to respond to blood and how to use universal precautions. The more HIV education people in your small town have, the less the rumors will affect your business. It looks as though that education needs to start with your initiative.

See if you can get other restaurant owners in town, or other members of your local Chamber of Commerce, to join with you and share any cost involved. If you frame it as a civic-minded step that benefits everyone, you could emerge with some positive publicity. I'd suggest approaching your local health department for help and advice. They may even be able to provide the training at no cost. Just be sure you keep the focus on how helpful this information is, not on the employee in question.

Kudos to you, by the way. A former prostitute needs a good job, and you're making that possible.

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