Employees are being discriminated against for theirinfectious illness known as A.I.D.S. They are labeledincapable of performing the tasks they pursued before theywere recognized as being infected. The confidentiality of anemployee is a private matter and very personal. There aremany different kinds of prejudice but not one as deadly asA.I.D.S Discrimination. The emotional trauma and future ofemployment play a giant role in the inflicted. HealthPolicies through job-related fields must learn to recognizethat like other illnesses, A.I.D.S does not forbid anemployee of performing his or her duties. It is the mostaltering form of discrimination because of the fact thatevery time a person finds out they are positive, theopinions of those who surround them are likely to change. The working class is the most susceptible to this form ofdiscrimination. The every day environment of an employeewith A.I.D.S is also the work grounds for someone who isn'tinfected with A.I.D.S. A.I.D.S Discrimination in ajob-related atmosphere is due to lack of education andsensitivity.
The infection of HIV does not reduce an employee'sefficiency from satisfactory to intolerable. An employeeshould not be denied employment or promotion if they are not
flawed by HIV. Some employees are not stripped of theircapacities to perform even though they are infected with HIV(Lewy 2). Why should the employee health benefits be alteredbecause of the nature of the disease. The majority ofemployee policies offered cover catastrophic illness withonly ten percent covering A.I.D.S. One particular policystates that people do not become infected through usualbehavior in a working environment. This illustrates thatA.I.D.S patients are protected under disability law and areentitled to the same medical benefits (Karr A1). Policiesmust be issued to protect the inflicted. A Department ofHealth and Human Services review board has ruled"discrimination against someone who's HIV-positive isillegal" (Kolasa 63). Where does it say that unless theinfected is under employment? The main thing to understandis that it doesn't. Eileen Kolasa reminds us of a law ofdirect meaning "HIV is a handicap protected under federallaw" (66). The American justice system is what decides thefate of the infected. The challenge of bringing an A.I.D.Sdiscrimination case in court has become very common in theUnited States. Such actions have been victorious and havehelped pass revised Disability Acts which applies to alldiseases (Annas 592).
Even though the infected are defended under law, itstill violates a person's human rights of personal healthsecrecy. This discrimination has not received attention as aform of human-rights violation. The government and courtsystems have helped essentially, but discrimination alsoaffects medical care. Physicians and lawyers should promote
the interests of the sick as well (Annas 592). Revealingthis condition is a serious decision to make. Thepossibilities of acceptance will differ in the lives of manyHIV-positive employees. Helen Lippman, senior editor of RNmagazine replies:
If legislation were passed requiring health-care
providers to report their HIV status, nearly
four in ten respondents say that they would report
a suspected violation. (32)
The tutelage of A.I.D.S at a job can considerably changeattitudes of credibility. The Americans With Disability Actgoverns to any company with twenty-five or more employees. This legislation forbids discrimination against anydisability or chronic disease. The interesting fine print isthat it specifically mentions A.I.D.S. within its text(Pogash 77). The policies do mot automatically make theroutines of companies more likely to accept them. Wyatt JohnBunker explains from Karrs article "the gold standard isn'twhether companies have a policy, but how they handle A.I.D.S.on a day to day basis" (A1). One of the first A.I.D.S. discrimination cases that wasfiled was against United Airlines. Two pilots wereprohibited from flying due to the fact that they wereHIV-positive. James F. Peltz and Stuart Silverstein, LosAngeles Times writers, explain that "the case extends thealready-sensitive subject of A.I.D.S. in the workplace toanother group of professionals whose jobs include protectingthe safety of others" (D1). Bunker's theory does make sensein the employee situations where the general public becomes a
dynamic participant in the matter. Robert Lewy shares hisview of determining if an employee is able to perform his orher obligation of employment by a series of guidelines:
HIV-infected workers should be treated the same
as persons with any other non-work-related
injuries or illnesses, such as diabetes or
epilepsy. They are entited to equal rights
and benefits of employment, including
available medical services. (9)
-----One possible solution is to educate the businesses to besympathetic. The Centers for Disease Control & Preventionhave coordinated a program called "Business Responds toA.I.D.S." Its main initiative is to involve better educationby sensitizing executives, managers, and labor leaders. Ifthey draft new policies for their businesses, they will bestepping in the right direction (Collingwood 46). Smallindependent businesses can set their own policies but whatabout the large chain businesses?
The commonly known department store "Macy's" came acrossan A.I.D.S. discrimination dispute. When Macy's haddiscovered that Mark Woodley, the usual Santa Claus, wasHIV-positive he was denied employment. They did however offerhim a job supervising the Santa Claus's, but he refused(Santa 22). Macy's tried to cover up by offering Mr. Woodleya job that did not involve the interaction of people. Thesituation was backed up by a protest march which resulted inchaos. One protestor John Winkleman states "A.I.D.S.discrimination violates the spirit of Christmas and we willnot tolerate it at all" (Santa 22).
Some businesses do not want to deal with beingresponsible for someone who somewhere down the line mightbecome fatally ill. Insurance coverage is a main concern foremployees. The cost of treatment for A.I.D.S from the firstdiagnosis to death is an amount of $85,000 (Pogash 77). TheMedical staff of hospitals deal with HIV-positive patients ona daily basis. Nurses, unlike office employees orconstruction workers, perform invasive procedures on patientsproviding them with immediate care. This line of duty mayenforce stronger policies for their own legal protection(Kolasa 64). A survey was taken from Helen Lippman for RNmagazine. She reports "a caregiver's risk of infection aftera needlestick with contaminated blood, the CDC estimates isabout one in 200, and about one in 300 from percutaneousexposure" (30). Medical officials should be offered theseprotection plans, but should also become more sensitive tothe subject of discrimination. The City of Philadelphiafired emergency health physicians for refusing to give propertreatment to patients with A.I.D.S (Philadelphia 17). If youare put in a situation where you are working with someone whois infected or worrying of becoming infected yourself, youwould want to know what protection is offered after knowingthe rights of the caregiver (Kolasa 63).
A.I.D.S discrimination is no different than any otherform of prejudice. The only way it trails off the basic pathis that it can go either way. Whether you are a patient whois infected or a nurse who is infected. Whether you are anoffice employee or a client of an office employee. A.I.D.Sdoes not chose skin color, religion, or ethnic background.
It will get to anyone puts themselves at risk. If you add upall the hate and discomfort between people or groups ofpeople in our society who are prejudiced as it is, and addanother reason to take the hate to a higher level, theproblem will never be solved. Everyone must work togetherand become more educated about the way victims of thishourglass disease are treated. Black, White, Jewish, Asian,etc. Everyone has their opposing differences about oneanother, or how one race or belief is dominant over another.
A.I.D.S is not prejudice. It has a hold on many groupsof these people. Health policies are offered for theprotection of the sick, but no policy will protect them fromthe emotional abuse. This is why we shouldn't turn our backson these people who are less fortunate. It's not going toget better. We must educate ourselves to not be soclose-minded, and start to get ahead of the game. Despiteall the irreconcilable differences between different types ofpeople who are infected ,they have one threatening thing incommon.....they are all dying. Educate not to discriminate. Are you so certain you will never be infected?
-----30 Nov. 1991, sec. 1: 22.
Annas, George. "Detention of HIV Positive Haitians at
-----Guantanamo." The New England Journal of Medicine 329 (1993): 589-592.Collingwood, Harris.
"A.I.D.S and Business: A Plan for Action." Business Week 14 Dec. 1992: 46.
Kolasa, Eileen Urban. "HIV vs. a nurses right to work." RN January 1993: 63-68.
Lewy, Robert. "HIV Infection and Job Performance." U.S.A Today August 1992: 28-29.
Lippman, Helen. "HIV and Professional Ethics: Nurses Speak Out." RN June 1992: 28-32.
Peltz, James. "2 United Pilots File 1st A.I.D.S-Related Suit Against an Airline." Los Angeles Times 12 April. 1995:
"Philadelphia Resolves A.I.D.S. Bias Complaint." New York
Pogash, Carol. "Risky Business (Coping with A.I.D.S. in the
-----workplace.)" Working Woman October 1992: 74-79.