HIV/HEP B+ NURSE

Question

I AM INTERESTED IN PURSUING A NURSING CAREER. ONE OF THE PROGRAMS REQUIRES A DRUG TEST AND HEALTH SCREENING ON WHICH I WILL HAVE TO DISCLOSE MY MEDICATIONS. ISN'T THIS THE SAME AS TELLING MY EMPLOYER MY STATUS? I HAVE BEEN HIV+ SINCE THE 1980'S AND HAVE COME TO ACCEPT MY STATUS AS A NORMAL PART OF LIFE. TCELLS HAVE FLUCTUATED ABOVE/BELOW 200. NEVER BEEN HOSPITALIZED OR HAD A BLATANT SECONDARY/OPPORTUNISTIC INFECTION BUT DO STUGGLE WITH SOME DEPRESSION, ANXIETY AND FATIGUE BUT MAINTAIN AN UNDETECTABLE VIRAL LOAD SO LONG AS I TAKE THE MEDS. WHAT ARE MY LEGAL OBLIGATIONS IN TERMS OF DISCLOSURE? I AM COMFORTABLE THAT I CAN PROVIDE QUALITY SAFE CARE BUT DON'T WANT TO BE NAIVE EITHER. I DON'T THINK MY HEALTH IS ANYBODY'S BUSINESS AND I CERTAINLY DON'T QUALIFY FOR DISABILITY SO I MUST WORK. I AM PLANNING ON LIVING A FULL LIFE EXPECTANCY AND NEED TO GET EMPLOYED IN A FIELD THAT IS STABLE, IN DEMAND AND TO WHICH MY PERSONALITY AND ABILITIES ARE A FIT. NURSING IS THAT PROFESSION BASED ON A NUMBER OF CAREER AND PERSONALITY ASSESSMENTS. THANK YOU.

Answer

I can't tell whether the entity asking for this is a school or an employer. In any case, you can safely provide nursing care and I encourage you to move forward. You have a couple of choices:

  1. Contact the program and state that you have privacy concerns around the medications question. What is it that they need to know? Often your doc can write a response about your fitness, addressing their concerns, without naming your diagnosis or your meds.

  2. Be proactive: attach the note from your doc to the application before you even ask why they want to know.

You have a right to privacy. They're probably concerned about hepatitis. In any case, you can work this out. For more help, go to the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC). They're great advocates for HIV-positive nurses.
Assoc of Nurses in AIDS Care