Discrimination Against Those with AIDS
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known as A.I.D.S. They are labeled incapable of performing the tasks they
pursued before they were recognized as being infected. The confidentiality of
an employee is a private matter and very personal. There aremany different
kinds of prejudice but not one as deadly as A.I.D.S Discrimination. The
emotional trauma and future ofemployment play a giant role in the inflicted.
Health policies through job-related fields must learn to recognize that like
other illnesses, A.I.D.S does not forbid an employee of performing his or her
duties. It is the most altering form of discrimination because of the fact that
every time a person finds out they are positive, the opinions of those who
surround them are likely to change. The working class is the most susceptible to
this form of discrimination. The every day environment of an employee with
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 a job-related atmosphere is due to lack of education
The infection of HIV does not reduce an employee'sefficiency from
satisfactory to intolerable. An employee should not be denied employment or
promotion if they are not flawed by HIV. Some employees are not stripped of
their capacities to perform even though they are infected with HIV(Lewy 2). Why
should the employee health benefits be altered because of the nature of the
disease. The majority of employee policies offered cover catastrophic illness
with only ten percent covering A.I.D.S. One particular policy states that
people do not become infected through usual behavior in a working environment.
This illustrates that A.I.D.S patients are protected under disability law and
are entitled to the same medical benefits (Karr A1). Policies must be issued to
protect the inflicted. A Department of Health and Human Services review board
has ruled "discrimination against someone who's HIV-positive is illegal" (Kolasa
63). Where does it say that unless the infected is under employment? The main
thing to understand is that it doesn't. Eileen Kolasa reminds us of a law of direct
meaning "HIV is a handicap protected under federal law" (66). The American
justice system is what decides the fate of the infected. The challenge of
bringing an A.I.D.S discrimination case in court has become very common in the
United States. Such actions have been victorious and have helped pass revised
Disability Acts which applies to all diseases (Annas 592).
Even though the infected are defended under law, it still violates a
person's human rights of personal health secrecy. This discrimination has not
received attention as aform of human-rights violation. The government and court
systems have helped essentially, but discrimination also affects medical care.
Physicians and lawyers should promote the interests of the sick as well (Annas
592). Revealing this condition is a serious decision to make. The
possibilities of acceptance will differ in the lives of many HIV-positive
employees. Helen Lippman, senior editor of RN magazine 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 change attitudes of
credibility. The Americans With Disability Actgoverns to any company with
twenty-five or more employees. This legislation forbids discrimination against
any disability or chronic disease. The interesting fine print is that it
specifically mentions A.I.D.S. within its text(Pogash 77). The policies do mot
automatically make the routines of companies more likely to accept them. Wyatt
John Bunker explains from Karrs article "the gold standard isn't whether
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 was filed was against
United Airlines. Two pilots were prohibited from flying due to the fact that
they were HIV-positive. James F. Peltz and Stuart Silverstein, Los Angeles
Times writers, explain that "the case extends the already-sensitive subject of
A.I.D.S. in the workplace to another group of professionals whose jobs include
protecting the safety of others" (D1). Bunker's theory does make sense in the employee
situations where the general public becomes a dynamic participant in the matter.
Robert Lewy shares his view of determining if an employee is able to perform his
or her 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 be sympathetic. The
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention have coordinated a program called
"Business Responds to A.I.D.S." Its main initiative is to involve better
educationby sensitizing executives, managers, and labor leaders. If they draft
new policies for their businesses, they will be stepping in the right direction
(Collingwood 46). Small independent businesses can set their own policies but
what about the large chain businesses?
The commonly known department store "Macy's" came across an A.I.D.S.
discrimination dispute. When Macy's had discovered that Mark Woodley, the usual
Santa Claus, was HIV-positive he was denied employment. They did however offer
him 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. The situation was backed up by a protest march which resulted in chaos.
One protestor John Winkleman states "A.I.D.S.discrimination violates the spirit
of Christmas and we will not tolerate it at all" (Santa 22).
Some businesses do not want to deal with being responsible for someone who
somewhere down the line might become fatally ill. Insurance coverage is a main
concern for employees. The cost of treatment for A.I.D.S from the first
diagnosis to death is an amount of $85,000 (Pogash 77). The Medical staff of
hospitals deal with HIV-positive patients ona daily basis. Nurses, unlike
office employees or construction workers, perform invasive procedures on
patients providing them with immediate care. This line of duty may enforce
stronger policies for their own legal protection(Kolasa 64). A survey was taken
from Helen Lippman for RN magazine. She reports "a caregiver's risk of
infection after a needlestick with contaminated blood, the CDC estimates is
about one in 200, and about one in 300 from percutaneous exposure" (30).
Medical officials should be offered theseprotection plans, but should also
become more sensitive tothe subject of discrimination. The City of
Philadelphiafired emergency health phys icians for refusing to give proper
treatment to patients with A.I.D.S (Philadelphia 17). If you are put in a
situation where you are working with someone who is infected or worrying of
becoming infected yourself, you would want to know what protection is offered
after knowing the rights of the caregiver (Kolasa 63).
A.I.D.S discrimination is no different than any other form of prejudice.
The only way it trails off the basic path is that it can go either way. Whether
you are a patient who is infected or a nurse who is infected. Whether you are
an office employee or a client of an office employee. A.I.D.S does not chose
skin color, religion, or ethnic background. It will get to anyone puts
themselves at risk. If you add up all the hate and discomfort between people or
groups of people in our society who are prejudiced as it is, and add another
reason to take the hate to a higher level, the problem will never be solved.
Everyone must work together and become more educated about the way victims of
this hourglass disease are treated. Black, White, Jewish, Asian,etc. Everyone
has their opposing differences about one another, or how one race or belief is
dominant over another.
A.I.D.S is not prejudice. It has a hold on many groups of these people.
Health policies are offered for the protection of the sick, but no policy will
protect them from the emotional abuse. This is why we shouldn't turn our backs
on these people who are less fortunate. It's not going to get better. We must
educate ourselves to not be soclose-minded, and start to get ahead of the game.
Despite all the irreconcilable differences between different types of people who
are infected, they have one threatening thing in common.....they are all dying.
Educate not to discriminate. Are you so certain you will never be infected?
"A.I.D.S Protesters-as-Santa's at Macy's." New York Times. 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.
Karr, Albert. "Employer A.I.D.S Policies begin to Proliferate. The Wall Street
Journal 15 Dec. 1992: A1.
Kolasa, Eileen Urban. "HIV vs. a nurses right to work." RN January 1993: 63-
Lewy, Robert. "HIV Infection and Job Performance." U.S.A Today August 1992:
Lippman, Helen. "HIV and Professional Ethics: Nurses Speak Out." RN June
Peltz, James. "2 United Pilots File 1st A.I.D.S-Related Suit Against an
Airline." Los Angeles Times 12 April. 1995:D1.
"Philadelphia Resolves A.I.D.S. Bias Complaint." New York Times 22 Mar. 1994,
sec. A: 17
Pogash, Carol. "Risky Business (Coping with A.I.D.S. in the Workplace.)"
October 1992: 74-79.