Can I do phlebotomy if I am HIV+?


I was wondering your opinion on this. I am a medical technologist and just moved to a small town. I will be working at the hospital, I am also HIV+ for the past 5 years. I recently got my physical and the doctor panicked when I told her the meds she didn't recognize were for HIV. Part of my job description will require occasionally drawing blood. My start date has been delayed while she "figures things out". This place I am working at is a small town in the Bible belt with die hard republicans, who have HIV phobia, much like most of the people that post on your forum, which I think is part of the problem. Isn't she being overly cautious? Am I really that much of a danger to patient care?

To me, I think that she is being overly cautious and that logically patients are more of a danger to me than I am to them. Not only do they tend to cough in your face, and obviously it seems that I am more likely to be stuck with a needle that has been in their arm than them be stuck with a needle with my blood. The only possible way I think I could be a danger is if I were to purposely try to infect people, which I would never do. (Yes there are people in this town that think all of us positive people carry around needles with our own blood to infect others, which is why my treatment is taking place 2 hours away, but unfortunately my soon to be husband has ties here, anyway...)Or if I were to have obvious signs of illness, which even if you are negative for HIV you aren't supposed to have patient contact anyway.

So I thought I'd ask your opinion. Am I completely off base in thinking for thinking there isn't a big deal or is that doctor off base in thinking that I am a threat to patient care? As of right now I haven't been able to start yet at my job and I want to know if they have a good reason for this delay. Thanks.



I'm shocked that even in a Bible belt small town a physician wouldn't even recognize HIV/AIDS medications. That speaks volumes right there! It also doesn't exactly inspire confidence that she'll "figure things out" in any kind of logical or scientifically sound way. You are absolutely correct: there is no reason that being HIV positive would prevent you from performing your duties effectively and safely, including drawing blood! The law is on your side. The hospital should not be able to discriminate against you because people are paranoid. However, that town sounds like a nightmare and those moral upstanding Bible-thumping die-hard right wing wingnuts might make life very difficult for you. On the other hand, perhaps you and your future husband could ultimately bring enlightenment to a community that obviously is in desperate need of a good dose of reality.

Good luck!

Dr. Bob