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Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

 

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome| pdf(46 kb)

 

 

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1. Statement of Intent|

2. Medical Information|

3. Implications for Employment|

 

 

1. Statement of Intent

1. The University, being a public service, is obliged to provide services across all social and cultural groups within the community and sometimes, rarely, employees may find themselves dealing with a person carrying an infectious disease.

2. The syndrome known as AIDS has caused particular concern, although in normal social and work situations it is far less infectious than many other potentially fatal infectious diseases. It is acknowledged, however, that lack of information combined with a fear of the consequences of AIDS could lead to employment difficulties.

3. This policy has been prepared to promote awareness and allay irrational fears and, together with existing University policies, is designed to foster good working relations among employees. Although this policy refers specifically to AIDS, the measures outlined within the document apply with equal force to all other life-threatening infectious diseases.

 

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2. Medical Information

1. The policy is based upon the following proven medical facts relating to HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) infection:

Routes of transmission are clear, they are:

• By unprotected penetrative sexual intercourse vaginally or anally, through semen and vaginal fluids.

• By blood to blood contact.

• By the sharing of HIV infected syringes and needles; and

• By an HIV infected woman through pregnancy or breast milk to her child.

The virus is not spread by normal social contact and, therefore, cannot be passed on through touching or shaking of hands, or through saliva or tears.

You cannot catch the virus by touching inanimate objects used by a person who is infected with HIV. Therefore, objects such as cups, cutlery, glasses, food, clothes, towels, toilet seats, telephones and door knobs present no risk, neither do pets. Swimming pools are also safe.

The virus itself is not very strong. Outside the virus particle is a membrane a few millionths of an inch thick. Detergents bleach and a host of chemicals destroy the membrane and thus the virus. If it is heated, the virus is destroyed.

 

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3. Implications for Employment

1. The specific routes by which infection may occur means that the great majority of employees will not be at any risk whilst at work even if a colleague, pupil or client has AIDS or is an HIV carrier.

2. Through its duty to employees under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act, the University will take all reasonable, practicable steps to ensure the health and safety of employees who may face the potential risk of exposure to blood or body fluids during the course of their employment.

3. In deciding what is "reasonably practicable" the University will use nationally published authoritative guidance as a starting point. The fullest protection for employees at work is achieved by applying the principles of good hygiene to every situation where blood or body fluids may be released, irrespective of whether there is any risk of actual infection with HIV. Therefore, it will be for Departments with employees who might face such a hazard at work to compile specific "codes of practice" for limiting and controlling the risk in full consultation with the Safety Officer.

4. Independently of their employment, employees may become infected with HIV and develop AIDS or a related condition. Their rights to employment protection, both statutory and under University policy are in no way reduced as a result.

Department of Employment guidance states:

"There are generally no grounds for dismissal purely on the basis that an employee has been infected. Employers will need to take a reasoned view based on all the circumstances, taking into account factors such as the individual’s ability to continue working satisfactorily, the possibility of a move to different duties, any medical received and whether continued employment is against the employee’s, employer’s, or the public interest."

5. The unauthorised disclosure of confidential information by an employee relating to students (or colleagues) will be considered a serious matter which may lead to action being taken against the employee either by the University or the individual affected by the unauthorised disclosure. If an employee receives information accidentally regarding HIV or AIDS, this too must be kept confidential.

6. If an employee is known to be HIV infected, there may be rare circumstances in which it would be appropriate, either for their own safety or the safety of others, to consider a move to alternative duties. Knowledge of their infection should, however, be treated in confidence and disclosed to others only with the employee’s permission except where, on the basis of medical advice, it is necessary to protect the safety of others.

7. Where a risk could arise in an employment situation, irrespective of the known presence of a person with AIDS, guidance will be sought and the recommended course of action taken to limit and control the risk of HIV infection. Employees will be expected to work according to that course of action.

8. If a specific case of AIDS is legitimately declared to the University our Medical Advisor will advise the Faculty/Department concerned on the action to be taken having due regard to the circumstances of the case, the implementation of any relevant "code of practice" and the identification of those employees who will need to abide by it.

9. In the event of employees refusing to work normally in the presence of students/colleagues who may have HIV infection or AIDS, every effort must be made to eliminate possible misunderstandings concerning the nature of the risk. The University would need to respond as it would to other forms of industrial action and seek resolution through normal procedures.

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