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Corrections Officer and Pozitive,
Feb 23, 2005

I work for the Dept. of Corrections in Ohio, and am a corrections officer. Is there a need for me to disclose my status to my employer? I am afraid that if they found out that I would be highly discriminated against. Though I worry about getting into a scuffle with an inmate and there be blood drawn. What should I do? I have told a few very close friends at work. None of them would disclose. But am wondering should I tell management?

Response from Ms. Breuer

Excellent question. You have no legal obligation to disclose any medical condition to your employer unless it would prevent you from fulfilling the essential functions of your job. That is not the cases in your job. As to the likelihood of blood being drawn, remember that your blood would have to come into immediate, intimate contact with the mucous membranes or the bloodstream of the other person. Transmission through contact in a prison scuffle would make medical history, as far as I know.

The appropriate focus of concern in any workplace where the possibility of spilled blood is strong is universal precautions. Your colleagues and management should all know how to respond when blood is present, how to assess whether an exposure has taken place, and how to deal with ALL blood as if it is infectious. As a corrections officer, you are more at risk of potential hepatitis B or C infection from the blood of an inmate or colleague than the inmate or a colleague is at risk of acquiring HIV infection from you.

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