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HIV Life >> Living With HIV

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Anonymous
Unregistered

Holding down a job
      #139591 - 04/03/05 09:58 AM

I was recently infected and am concerned about holding down my job. May I ask if other folks continued going to work after testing positive? If so, for how many years were you able to work? I can't quit my job, since I really need the money. I'm up to my eyeballs in student loans and need to work hard to make ends meet.

Ideally, though, I'd like to talk to my boss and reduce my workweek to 4 days a week instead of 5. It's a demanding job with lots of deadlines. I don't want to be under constant stress while fighting this illness. What approach have others taken? Have employers been understanding about these types of requests? Thanks.

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Anonymous
Unregistered

Re: Holding down a job new
      #139601 - 04/03/05 01:43 PM

Well, I am not sure I understand your post. Did you just test positive, but aren't ill? If you aren't ill, there isn't any point in quitting your job. You should be able to work for years.

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Tscotty
Member

Reged: 03/26/05
Posts: 13
Re: Holding down a job new
      #139603 - 04/03/05 02:19 PM

Hi,
I would not recommend telling your boss. Depending on the industry you are in and/or the size of the company they might view you as a liability.
It is not legal in most states for them to deny you employment based upon your condition but they can make things hard on you. Do you have some vacation time available?
Instead of cutting back right away how about taking some time off to just relax, gather your thoughts, and maybe think of a new game plan. If you are recently infected, but not symptomatic, then working is actually good for you right now.(especially if you are on medication and this job provides insurance)
Stress management will be vital and if your current job has alot of that then maybe a different job is in order. One of the most important things to remember is that whatever job you have you really need to enjoy it. If you think that four days would be better for you then approach your boss about that and don't give a reason if possible. Be careful that if they do agree to 4 days that this doesn't reduce you to part-time status and compromise your benefits. You will need insurance.
Some of my best working years have been throughout my infection and my biggest accomplishments have come in the last couple of years while I have also become resistant to most HIV meds and have been dealing with the stress of that. Take everything a day at a time and keep talking here about it. There is so much wisdom on this site and some awesome people willing to share. I wish you the best and please let me here what you decided.

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Anonymous
Unregistered

Re: Holding down a job new
      #139605 - 04/03/05 05:41 PM

Yes, positive test but still asymptomatic.

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Anonymous
Unregistered

Re: Holding down a job new
      #139606 - 04/03/05 05:44 PM

Thanks so much for the encouraging words. I like this site a lot.

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debtex
Legend

Reged: 03/21/05
Posts: 846
Re: Holding down a job new
      #139678 - 04/05/05 01:52 PM

I have been poz for 12 yrs and have worked the entire time that I have known about being poz. The first employer I had I was scared to tell, but afraid she would hear thru the grapevine (b-cuz of rumors) so I felt I had to tell her, so terrified of loosing my job I told her (but I was afriad if she found out on her own..she would find a reason to let me go) becuase they cannot fire you for that...but to my surprize, she was very understanding, as she had also lost a cousin to aids. Now I work at a hospital (in an outpt hiv clinic) so it doesn't matter if I tell them or not (although for the most part I do not tell them..unless I need advise) which actually works out great becuase I know I am getting good advice. But as someone else has mentioned....you really do have to be careful what employers you tell, as you do not know how they will be about it, and what type of industry that you work in they can try to find reason other than your status. But there is no reason that working is not good for you, it can also help keep you occupied on other things than just focusing on your being poz all the time too.

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stefsorg
Unregistered

Re: Holding down a job new
      #139717 - 04/06/05 11:52 AM

Hello
I have worked for the last 6 yrs with hiv in a very physical job and have gone to school. My doc said that some mistakes were made prescribing meds in the 90's and a generation of hivers suffered and also at the time if you had an aids diagnosis you could forget going back to work due to insurance and false hope. Today i think it's different. I think if you find a good doc and take your meds you can plan on working for a long time. I am starting meds in the next few months and not being able to work was a big fear of mine because i am only 25 and can't afford not to. The meds that were prescribed before caused some dibilitating side effects also, but it shouldn't be an issue today. Hope this helps
Stef

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Anonymous
Unregistered

Re: Holding down a job new
      #139729 - 04/06/05 06:11 PM

Poz for 15 years, and not only still working, but loving it ! Unless you really have to, don't let HIV stop you from achieving your goals, and ruining your life. My t-cells haven't seem to be affected by the normal day in day out stress of the job, no matter how crazy things got. I always felt like cutting back on the job was giving in. Don't give in !

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Wayne
Unregistered

Re: Holding down a job new
      #139730 - 04/06/05 06:12 PM

Don't worry, I've been HIV+ for 18 years and I'm still working 45 hours a week and going strong, Don't get stressed out, live life one day at a time, and you'll be suprised how easy it is and before you know it the years will start flying by.

Good Luck
Wayne

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Anonymous
Unregistered

Re: Holding down a job new
      #139732 - 04/06/05 07:12 PM

On the issue of working. Since you have recently tested poz and are still working. Do what you can to start putting money away in a place where you will not miss it. Such as Wells Fargo has a set up where they will take however much money you request and put it into the stock market. I have done this for 4 years now and recently went on disability because of the side effects of some of the meds I have taken. Anyway, although I have health insurance and short term and long term disability with work, my short term ran out and I'm now in a fight with long term. I have neuropathy and going to work 40 hours plus just isn't on my important list anymore.

I have been able to use that money and not touch my 401k yet. Plus you can get your private disability insurance now so when the day happens, you won't just have to depend on your company disability insurance although it is good to have.

If I could work part time right now I would. However, disability doesn't count if you work part time but will count if you get disability and then want to work part time. So while I'm out waiting to get my disability, I am not working. However, when I am approved I will be able to work and still be on disability.

If you can work a day or two at home that'll help too. If not, then you have to make arrangements with the saving money, etc.

Private insurance is another thing. Health insurance, COBRA for when you are not working and have to pay those high amounts of CORBA, so count the cost of what you will need.

HIV is manageable nowadays, but the side effects of the meds can get to a person's body. There is just no way of knowing how the meds are going to effect you early in this stage. So plan now.

Peace

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Martin S
Unregistered

Re: Holding down a job new
      #139734 - 04/06/05 08:02 PM

I learned I was positive nearly 18 years ago and have always worked full time.

It was important to me from the beginning to establish who was in control: me or the disease. I decided it was ME and that HIV would have as little effect on me as possible. I've held to that stance ever since and I believe it's important to establish and maintain "who's the boss of you."

Secondly, I've found that an integral part of my staying healthy was learning how to "manage" the stress in my life--whether it be stress from work, from family, from personal relationships, traffic or just people on the street. Managing stress involves at least two factors:
1) establishing limits on what you will and will not do (work 40 hours per week vs 80 hours; stay out partying until 1am vs staying out 'till 5am; etc.) and
2) finding habits, environments, ways of doing things that are good for your life, i.e. nurturing, healthy and stress relieving.

"Managing" often means giving up things that are bad for you. Working too many hours, working for crazed people who stress you out, coping with a destructive relationship, drinking too much to cope with the stress... D'ya see a pattern here?

Replace those things, where you can, with equally rewarding equivalents--one's that don't raise your blood pressure so much. And, find outlets for your stress (no, don't kick the dog!). Take up jogging, join a gym, ride your bike (or your boy friend!)

The main thing is, YOU'RE THE ONE IN CONTROL. And remember, be good to yourself. Nobody's perfect, forgive yourself when you screw up. I you were perfect, you'd be running the world!

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YoungBeard
Newbie

Reged: 05/30/02
Posts: 1
Loc: Pittsburgh, PA
Re: Holding down a job new
      #139737 - 04/06/05 10:35 PM

Just want to second (third? fourth?) all the positive answers. Yes, I was diagnosed 5.5 yrs ago and have been employed by the same company for 9 yrs. It's a small business and my coworkers are like family, so I had few problems disclosing my status to my boss (she gave me a big hug that day). YMMV (your mileage may vary) however.

Now in addition to working 30-50 hrs a week I'm going to school to finish my BA degree!

Some time off now to "deal with" is understandable, but don't let the virus interfere with your life/career goals.

--------------------
meow

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Anonymous
Unregistered

Re: Holding down a job new
      #139738 - 04/06/05 10:52 PM

While I am not a physician, nor formally trained in HIV counseling, I am a person living with HIV. As such, though my thoughts and comments are anicdotal, I do very much understand the thoughts and feelings that you are going through regarding your employment and can relate to many of your questions and concerns from my own personal experience.

Your questions provide thought on so many levels and from so many perspectives. For instance, you state you are recently diagnosed. Do you know how well this equates to your date of infection, was it recent as well, or just recently detected? Have you discussed this with your physician? Generally people who are recently infected and diagnosed tend to have few if any major issues limiting their physical capabilities. In fact, I have met and know many men who upon having been detected have actually IMPROVED the overall health quality of their life in very many ways. Their HIV diagnosis served as a clarion call to "get right" with their bodies and spured them to often eat more healthy (through seeing dieticians, reading, etc.), increase their exercise, and to eschew or quit bad helth habits that they had previously been developing as life health patterns (such as smoking, drugs, benge drinking, partying till you drop, not getting enough rest and exercise, etc.) These are all issues and concerns that I like to place in the category of the "physical manifestations" of being diagnosed.

There is another dimension of being recently diagnosed, and that deals with the psychology and psyche of how you are coming to terms and dealing with your new self. Different people deal with this differently, and not all diagnosed individuals experience all the same aspects in this area. However, depression is certainly one that often is a player. epression can be as if not more debilitating that a new HIV infection it'self. It can lower your self esteem, energy levels, commitment to long range life goals, and so on. Additionally depression can manifest itself in ways in which you would never recognize it as depression, loss of sleep, maliase, tirdness, all of which many people may tend to think is a direct physilogical consequence of the HIV, but actually it is not, it's what I would call a secondar effect.

I encourage you to research and collect as much data as you can regarding your concerns and questions. Information is POWER! Consult your physician, other physicians, firends, other HIV infected individuals, councelors, and even perhaps some of the leaders in complementary therapies (vitamins and supplements to take along with your meds) What may be good for you may not have worked for others, and vice versa, but you will never know if you don't do your homework. Remember, you ARE in charge of your destiny. It is now your disease, and yours to learn about, and to course your path through treatment and living with HIV.

I think learning about the fininacil alternatives that might be available to you, and looking at your situation out 5, 19, 15, 20, yes maybe even 40 years is a wise decision. However, I would caution you not to make a jump too soon, or come to rash concludings. There are literally thousands of us with HIV who have had if for 5, 10, even 20 years that are not only still in the work force, but advancing in our careers.

Do discuss this with your doctor, counselors, and possibly second opinions. However (though I am not a doctor nor do I know your precise physical state) I will say that it is my bet that your concern, while real, is more a manifestation of your recent dianosis and trying to come to terms with that. Addressing that issue, through counseling, learning, discussion with health care providers, and if it is deemed necessary, taking anti-depression medications or making small modifications to your HAART regime may all make a tremendous difference in the quality of life you are experienceing, and your ability to continue to work.

Now, having exhausted all of those possibilities, ask yourself some of these questions....

1. Am I getting enough rest? Rest is important, and as you age, especially with HIV it becomes even more important. The stamina we all have to stay out all night and party and go to work the next day slowly creeps away with age, and HIV can hasten this.

2. Am I getting enough exercise. Exercise works wonders, not only on improving your overall strength, body, build. but helps to improve your sleeping and rest, and your psyche, which all in turn can have tremendous beneficial effects on changing your attitude of what you can and cant do in the work place.

3. See a dietician and have your diet analyzed. Is your diet healthy? If not, how can it be improved. Many HIV'ers do develop poor diets, and sometimes have difficulty absobing even the good quantity of nutrients that they take in. Some supplementation with vitamins and supplements may be in order or may be helpful here. Both your dietician and your physician should be able to discuss this issue with you.

4. Carrer change - Ask yourself if you low energy is from what you really think to be the HIV or if perhaps you are just experiencing the effects of a bad job. We all get that at some point in our careers.

5. Flex Schedule - If you absolutly feel you can not work the day's and hours your employer requires, see if they can flex your hours. Home workers are usually much more productive hour for hour in many jobs, hence less effort equals greater productivity. If your employeer will allow you to do this, are you disciplined enough to hold to it when you are not in the office, but working at home in your PJ's or sweats?

5. Stress - Identify any sources of stress in your life and try to address them. As I indicated exercise can reduce the effects of stress, but what I'm talking about here is alleviating the source. Perhaps you boss leans on you at deadlines in a way that is not productive for you personally, or you are micromanaged, or not managed enough. There can be many types of work related stress, but what is good about them is that many can be addressed if identified correctly.

6. Review your meds with your doctor. Are you on a rather toxic or non toxic regimen. The effects of different regimens on people vary, some tollerate some meds where others don't. Talk to your doctor about if you are on the best regimen for you, or if there might be a different one which may react more positivly for you, and the concerns you have abbut energy levels. I for example enrolled in a study once that used a PI enhancing medication that literally floored me and made me feel awful all the time. Once the strudy was over, I got off the PI (my doctor and I discussed and agreed I didn't need anything as stong as a PI) and we switched my regimen to Sustiva, Epivir, and Ziagen, and I personally have tollerated this VERY well, with no side effects effecting my energy level.

The bottom line of advise that I would have for you would be to not rush into making any hasty decisions or conclusions, do your research, consult your providers, and see if indeed there may be other issues at work which are causing you to come to the conclusion that perhaps you are ready to slow down.

Based on your having stated you were recently diagnosed, and assuming that that possibly coorilates to "recent infection", and that you have it under control with meds, I strongly suggest that you probably need not be worrying about reducing your work or career, but addressing the other issues. Go out lead your life, advance your career, buy a house, do everything like you had always dreamed and planned you would do, and my suspicion is that if you address the probably other causes of your concerns, you will soon find that having HIV is more of an annoyance (albeit a BIG annoyance) but it's not time to be thinking about the old age home, with a lap robe and a drool cup.


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Anonymous
Unregistered

HIV+ Can work and work and work new
      #139744 - 04/07/05 03:10 AM

Whatever you do, don't quit your job just because you think you are going to get sick! If we all did that we'd all quit tomorrow, since all but a few of us will eventually get ill with something and die of some combination of factors...and I am speaking of EVERYONE, not just those of us with HIV. I started three different careers since my diagnosis a decade and a half ago. One of my jobs is quiet physical. I am not always up to it, but that may have to do with age and arthritis, not HIV. So do what you want. The idea of working 4 days is excellent. You might consider working an extra hour or two on the days you do work. Your boss might or might not accomodate you, even if he's no angel, since you have some rights for "reasonable accomodation" under the ADA Law. You might consider leting him know that you wish to keep your medical condition secret. You might tell everyone (I wouldn't). You might go to HR and tell them. They can get you what you need and should not inform your boss of your particular condition, since you have a right to medical privacy. Lowering stress might not affect your medical health (viral load), but it might make you happier, and stronger to deal with all of life's challenges. So don't smoke, and don't use drugs for fun. Eat well and sleep well. Exercise. Be involved in your world. Don't dwell on your disease. Good luck! You probably have many years ahead of you, productive and meaningful. I figure I have a couple decades or more to go, which will mean I will have had HIV more than half my life. My life is far from finished. Go out and live!

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Dunkan
Unregistered

Re: Holding down a job new
      #139745 - 04/07/05 04:13 AM

Aside from a little time off work when i was first diagnosed to get my head round things, I have worked ever since ( that was 7 years ago now). Personally speaking I think its important for a number of reasons. Of course most peoples primary concern is the financial aspect, but there are many other benefits which come from work, the social and interactive aspects, keeping the mind and body alert. I have seen friends leave work as soon as they are diagnosed, who sady have quickly decended into poor routines, bad sleeping patterns, a drastic cut in income and increased iscolation, which all have severe impacts on their overall well being.

Of course its not always a question of personal choice alone, pyhsically you may be restricted in what you do depending on what medications you take and the effect they have on you.

Hope this helps.

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