A Co-Worker Is HIV Infected

A Co-Worker Is HIV Infected

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Learning that someone you work with has HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, should not be alarming. Many at your work site may react with fear, and others may feel helpless and not know what to do. Knowing more about HIV will help everyone feel more comfortable. Here are the facts.
HIV is NOT transmitted through casual contact such as:

A Co-Worker Is HIV Infected

  • holding hands or hugging
  • sneezing or coughing
  • insect bites or
  • sharing food, drink, or work space

HIV is passed to others by:

  • direct intimate contact with body fluids, such as blood, vaginal secretions, or semen
  • an HIV-infected mother to her baby during pregnancy
  • having sexual intercourse without a latex or plastic condom with an HIV-positive partner and
  • sharing contaminated needles

Most people do not work in places where there is risk for blood- to-blood exposure. Those who are at risk for such exposure at work include healthcare workers, laboratory staff, and public safety workers.
Very few people have been infected with HIV through occupational exposure. In these cases the source has been a patient, not a co- worker. HIV is a weak virus. It cannot live for long outside of the body. Everyone should use common sense when cleaning up body fluids of any kind. This will protect you from organisms such as hepatitis, as well as from HIV. If there should be an accident at your work site, use latex gloves and a 10% bleach or virus killing solution to clean up the spill. Wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
Learning the truth about HIV will help you learn that you cannot get HIV just by working with an infected person. Those who have HIV are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. This law protects those with HIV from being fired just because they have HIV.
People who are living with HIV face many difficulties. By reaching out with a kind word or touch you can make a big difference. This may put your co-workers more at ease. Your attitude can make your job site a more supportive place. If you are still concerned about working with someone with HIV, contact your company nurse, your local health department, your local AIDS organization.

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