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Post injury HIV testing / disclosure laws
Sep 7, 2001

One of my employees had a serious hand injury on the job. Co-workers responded without personal protection equipment. The plant manager wants the injured worker and co-workers to submit to HIV testing. Can we legally ask these employees to participate in testing?

Response from Ms. Breuer

From your description, it sounds as though first aid was done appropriately, with personal protection equipment. If that is true, then there was no "exposure" on the job. The greater legal issue here, I would think, is not a testing question, but the injured person's right to confidentiality of medical information. If no one else received a blood splash to the eye or came into direct contact with the injured person's blood through their own open, exposed, unprotected cut, then you have a success story here. I can understand the plant manager's concern about legal liability, but forcing an HIV test on an employee is a poor idea and seems unnecessary to me. Suggesting an HIV test to establish a baseline (was the exposed person already HIV+ or not?)is the usual response to a real exposure, but you don't need to go even that far, it seems. Am I missing any details that would change the picture? Laws vary within states, but I'm not aware of a situation in which you could force employees to submit to an HIV test. I suggest that you ask the plant manager what s/he would do with the results. (Clue: there probably is no good answer to that question.)

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