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Not geting treatment because hes afraid they will find out
Apr 14, 1999

My husband is employed through the electrical union. He found out six months ago he was positive. He has not yet started treatment because he is afraid his buisness agent which is on the insurance board will find out.I told him I thought that it was a law that even if he found out he could not tell anyone. Im so scared that he will die if he does not get treatment soon his t-cell is below 50. Is there a law that keeps people from sharing this information?

Response from Ms. Breuer

Your husband's health is far more important than his job--but getting treatment cannot legally limit his job. Yes, you are right. The Americans with Disabilities Act provides him with protection from discrimination, and no civilian employer (with the exception of a hospital) has the right to know an employee's diagnosis, even when the employee is using company-provided or union-provided medical insurance to pay for treatment. Good medical plans report to the employer only how much the plan is being used, not by whom. If he detects any difference in the way he is being treated at work after he begins treatment for his HIV, then he should contact an attorney at the local AIDS service organization for help in enforcing his rights. But fear of discovery at work is not a reason to avoid medical treatment. Untreated HIV infection becomes life-threatening. Please encourage him to seek treatment right away, and to use his insurance for it. This is what insurance is for. Remind him that his medical information is confidential, and no one at work has the right to demand the diagnosis. Write again if you have any more questions about this, please. Getting him into treatment is urgent. Strength to you!

Nancy Breuer



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