There have been over 206392 reported cases of the Acquired Immune Defi
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There have been over 206,392 reported cases of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome in
the US alone. Many of those people face discrimination every day, often at work. AIDS should not be
discriminated against in the workplace . One way to prevent discrimination is by not providing a basis for
it. As Charles Krauthammer said, “Ignorance is a cause for discrimination. It is not a justification for it.
(1)” The following paragraphs will discuss the reasons why AIDS should not be discriminated against and
why HIV+ and AIDS infected individuals should be able to keep health records private.
Individuals with AIDS are in no way a threat at work. Almost all contact between individuals at
work is considered casual contact. Casual contact is defined as hand-shaking, talking, and other every day,
normal activities. AIDS is a sexually transmitted, blood-borne virus that will not be passed by any thing
less than the exchange of body fluids. Saliva does carry small traces of the virus, but will only spread the
virus if it is in large quantities of a quart or more.
Quentin Peterson states, “Anyone infected with HIV or AIDS is not required to disclose to their
employer that they are infected with the diseases.(4)” This states that if proper action is taken, medical
records may be withheld from an employer or anyone else’s use to prevent discrimination. Some states and
cities have passed laws that prevent the screening of employees for AIDS or HIV. Many other states and
cities don’t have laws but they have bills pending.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that an employee can not be fired if their employer fears the
long-term effects of AIDS. It also states that no qualified handicapped individual shall be denied a job,
promotion, or any of the perks associated with a job. This act is the basis for most all of the anti-
discriminatory laws in the United States.
Despite the Rehabilitation Act, the Justice Department allows the firing of individuals with AIDS
or HIV if their employer fears that there will be contagion. Although there are no contagious effects of
AIDS in the casual contact scenarios of the workplace, cases are being won by employers every week.
Some might argue that there is a good chance of contagion in the workplace. If an AIDS positive
individual cuts himself then what about the blood? Once the AIDS virus is exposed to air it dies, therefore
the blood is not harmful. What some people think is risk is only fear. The only job where AIDS is an
extreme risk is prostitution. Other than prostitution there are no risks of contagion at work.
I believe discrimination against anything is inappropriate no matter what is being discriminated.
AIDS infected individuals should therefore be able to keep their medical records to themselves and their
doctors. Discrimination and fear only bring forth the worst in people. The only way to avoid being
discriminative is to become educated.
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