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HIV-positive employees in healthcare settings

Individuals with HIV infection or AIDS are considered, under law, to be protected because of a physical disability. Companies cannot discriminate against HIV-positive employees in hiring, positions, or job duties. Most employers cannot require their employees to submit to HIV testing.

In certain healthcare settings, an HIV-positive worker may be in proximity to a patient and working with sharp instruments: dentists, surgeons, nurses, phlebotomists, and others. None of the 50 states, nor the federal government, prohibits HIV-positive individuals from being employed in these jobs, and prohibiting or limiting their duties because of HIV status can be illegal discrimination.

Some states ask employees who come into contact with patient body fluids to submit to voluntary HIV testing and, in collaboration with a safety or review board, make sure that adequate standard precautions are in practice. Standard precautions, including wearing gloves, proper use of safety devices on needles, and safe operation of surgical instrument, will protect both employee and patient from HIV and other infection.