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sex in workplace
Aug 27, 2001

What if you know of a co-woker that has the HIV virus and this person is trying to spread it on purpose. And having sex with co-worker and not telling them and I know what she has what do I do?

Response from Ms. Breuer

This is a more frequent question than you may think. Here's the somewhat frustrating answer: A person's right to confidentiality of medical information does not change because others disapprove of his or her conduct. If you reveal her status without her permission, the person who has just messed up is you, not her.

There are other problems. How do you know she's having sex with a co-worker? How do you know it's unprotected sex? How do you know she's "trying to spread it on purpose"? Have you been present? See what I mean? The best way you can protect a friend from threats known and unknown is to remind the person that HIV is still out there and it's just as important as ever to protect oneself. I know it's popular to focus on the fault of the infected person when the virus is spread from one person to another, but in fact both people bear responsibility. Gift-wrapped condoms for your friend? Sure. A general conversation about how someone who looks good can still harbor a sexually transmitted disease? Sure. But disclosing her status without her permission? No. That puts you in the wrong.

And then, of course, there's the truly courageous choice: talking to her about your concern for your friend, and asking whether she has alerted him to the risks involved. Putting pressure on her to do the right thing may be the direct route you seek.

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