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Aren't we being exposed unnecessarily to those infections?
Mar 17, 1997

I understand why we are not at risk of acquiring HIV or AIDS from our employee who has it, but some employees are frightened about picking up the other infections, such as the skin lesions or the terrible cough. Aren't we being exposed unnecessarily to those infections?

Response from Ms. Breuer

The fear is understandable, but the infections that trouble a person with HIV/AIDS do not expose you to anything that you do not already encounter on your own. A person whose immune system is damaged has difficulty coping with ordinary germs that all of us encounter in our daily lives. When an immune-compromised person develops chronic diarrhea, for example, the symptom reflects the failure of the immune system to respond to a common germthat we all encounter. A healthy immune system fights the germ successfully. Other employees' immune systems are already challenged by the same germs whether the HIV-infected employee is present or not. Only the immune-compromised employee suffers the symptoms. This is true of the minor infections and the life-threatening infections.

The person with HIV/AIDS is not coming to work "with" something; the person is coming to work "without"something: without a fully-functioning immune system. The person with HIV/AIDS takes the greater risk of exposure to germs by coming to work.

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