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MD with HIV
Aug 2, 2001

I am a physician-in-trianing and have recently tested positive (not occupational-related, where do I begin with respect to disclosure, and furthermore preparing for disability?

Response from Ms. Breuer

You can begin in a very comfortable place with disclosure for now. Don't. This is new information. You're still learning how to deal with it emotionally and medically. Professionally comes later. You have no obligation to disclose to anyone right now to my knowledge. But check with the rules about HIV at the med center/clinic/hospital where you're interacting with patients, if you're at that stage.

For now, your main concern about your future career is choosing a specialty that will not be limited by HIV. For example, many hospital boards refuse operating privileges to HIV-positive surgeons.

But we always need good doctors, and you can be one, despite HIV.

Please learn all you can about the medical management of HIV and see how your body responds. As you think about career planning, I recommend visiting some sites that give you sample hospital HIV policies for staff so that you'll know what's out there. A great place to begin and to find links to other sources is the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, ANAC, which includes information for HIV-positive health care providers. Also check the site for your state medical board, specifically about reporting requirements and any limitations on HIV positive physicians.

I'm not sure entirely what you mean about "preparing for disability," but since you've just tested positive, I have only one "commandment" about that: when you get a paying job as a health care provider, go over the employer's benefit plan carefully. Be sure to sign up for long term disability insurance, and be sure to pay the premium yourself. Some employers offer to pay it for you, but if they pay, the eventual disability income, should you ever need it, is taxable. If you pay the premium, it's not.

I wish you well. Please write again if you have further questions. YOu might direct questions to the MD's on this site as well to learn what they know about restrictions on practice in your state.



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