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Employed as a Compounding Pharm Technician
Feb 6, 2008

Is my employment status somehow protected, when my job is compounding IV bags with medication? (I am of course HIV+.)I have just begun treatment yet my employment attendance has been affected by an icreasing onset of infections (I was not on medication previously, most attendance issues can be corelated with a doctor's visit). Now, I feel stronger physicaly, yet occasionaly the sustiva componenet of my atripla medication has caused me to call in late and I have had a public emotional experience/display at work (once), I believe, because of the sustiva. These side affects are fading and I am learning how to adapt to the occasional grogginess, but my job requires mental focus and physical strength. Human Resources is aware of my issues (they were made aware before the onset of treatment just a month ago), but I can't help but feel somewhat paranoid, though they "seem" co-operative with my treatment adjustment. So, given all of that, is there employment protection, disability protection? How wide is it? Does it cover a person who injects medication into IV bags? Thank you for your time.

Response from Ms. Breuer

There is no barrier to your performing your job with HIV. We need good compounding pharmacists! And the help your HR department is giving you may feel like an extra that could evaporate any minute, but in fact, they're following the law.

Your protection is the Americans with Disabilities Act. It requires your employer to reasonably accommodate your disability as long as you can perform the essential functions of your job. Your responsibility is to do all you can with your own health care team to adjust to the medication or take it on a schedule that allows you to be focused and productive at work.

Yes, the protection covers someone who injects medication into IV bags.

Your best course is to be honest with your HR director. Explain what you're doing to be proactive. Enter agreements about accommodations of your disability that are in writing and hold both parties responsible for certain actions. Agree on what it will look like if the accommodation is working--or not working. Document everything.

Congress, the disability community and a coalition of employers spent 12 years writing this act, and when used appropriately, it works. But remember: each party has responsibilities, documentation helps faulty memories, and honesty is the only way through this with integrity. I think you're going to be fine, based on others who have learned to manage their Sustiva in very demanding jobs. Turn to other members of your healthcare team for help, too--your doc has helped others get through periods like this.

The last thing you need is to wonder whether your employer is finding a reason to fire you. Help them find reasons to keep you.


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