Gay HIV POZ Law Enforcement Officer
Jul 14, 2005
I read the body web site on a regular basis and pay attention to all the issues but exspecially this forum. I see so much confusion about issues related to privacy and work that I thought I would share this with your readers.
I was diagnosed with AIDS almost three years. I did not receive an HIV diagnosis but an AIDS diagnosis. I work full time as a law enforcement officer and have for 12 years. I started getting sick and by the time I went to the doc I had developed PCP as well as had lost 30 pounds. Everyone around realized I looked bad and generally had that sick person look so the rumors started. I went to the doc was diagnosed and within two weeks was in the hospital.
I lost so much weight and was sick for the most of an year. My employer during this time was great. The command staff as well as the fellow officers I work with came by to see me in the hospital and when i went home. They helped me and I was told by our human resources director who came to see me not to worry about health insurance or leave just concentrate on getting well. So even though I did not initally disclose my HIV/AIDS status to my employer I had a great response from them when I was so sick.
Then I had to ask for there help due to running out of leave time and was about to not have a check for awhile. Being concerned about not having a pay check, I went to my Human Resource as well as the command staff and requested ADA accomodation. Before doing this however, I sought out many answers including consulting the ADA as well as an employment attorney. I learned so much about my rights to insure that they would not be violated and was prepared for there response. I did disclose my HIV/AIDS status and the ADA accomodation was granted and I returned to work in a limited duty position. THis allowed me to work to maintain my insureance and to be around those that I worked with prior to my diagnosis.
Almost three years have gone by since my diagnosis. It has been a long battle to return to as healthy as I can be but I am working full time with no problems. I have been promoted since disclosure as well as been appointed to a special tactical team.
Now am not saying that the response of my employer is typical but I am saying if you give your employer a chance they may surprise you with there response. My best advice for anyone in the situation of having to disclose your status is to become as informed as possible about your rights seek legal advice and to stand up for your rights. When you know rights it is hard for someone to violate them. I have chosen not to disclose to co workers but I have also chosen not disclose to close family. My work I had too because I needed help but like any other chronic medical people it is no one elses business so why tell.
I want others in my situation to know stay strong and make this decision. Either your person living with hiv/aids or your a person dying from hiv/aids. IF you choose to live then stay informed focus on staying healthy, physically and mentally, and take chances because you just might be surprised at what the response will be. Stay realistic in your expectations but know your quality of life is what you make of out exspecially at work...
Just my thoughts and story
Response from Ms. Breuer
Congratulations. You are generous to write. And your story proves again that the best way to stand up for your own rights is to know what they are and treat your employer as if he/she will respond professionally.
I will indeed post your comments. Thank you, and strength to you!
FYI, there is a new Website that might interest you where volunteers are collecting stories of HIV and employment to serve as models and examples for others living with HIV. Check it out at www.workingpositive.net. I'm a volunteer with the organization, so if you think you'd be willing to have your story appear there as well, please let me know. I have no email address for you; I can't see it in this program.
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