FAQ on HIV in the workplace

How can I provide support for an employee with HIV? How should I tell that person's colleagues? This is where you will find all that you, as an employer, need to know about HIV in the workplace.

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How should company employees be informed about HIV/AIDS?

Fears and prejudices about people with HIV/AIDS are often a result of a lack of knowledge and understanding. Employees can often deal much better with the subject of HIV/AIDS when they have access to detailed and reliable information . The Swiss AIDS Federation is happy to provide such information and will willingly set up information courses for company staff

How can I provide support for an employee with HIV/AIDS? Where can I find help?

Employers who manifest an open and supportive attitude both within the company and towards the outside world are more likely to win the confidence of those employees affected by HIV/AIDS.
Should an employee inform you that he/she is HIV positive, this information must be treated with the utmost discretion . You can support this member of staff by adjusting working hours wherever necessary (so that his/her working hours do not fall within the main rush hours) or certain adjustments can be made to the working environment should this be desired (such as the provision of a personal locker away from the prying eyes of colleagues where medication can be discretely locked away). If the need for a personal consultation in relation to HIV/AIDS arises, your Aids servicese is the perfect partner for this. For legal questions , advice is provided by the Swiss AIDS Federation ( Legal Services ).

Who should know that a member of staff is HIV positive?

The fact that someone is HIV positive is an extremely private and confidential matter which should, under no circumstances, be divulged without the explicit agreement of the person in question or on the basis of a court injunction. This basic principle is laid down in the Data Protection Act, the Cicil code and the Code of Obligations. Anyone contravening this commits a breach of both Privacy Rights and Data Protection Act and is liable to prosecution.

What type of risk might an HIV positive employee pose to his/her colleagues and clients?

None. For there is no risk of infection as a result of routine workplace activities. The HI virus can be transmitted neither during normal daily human contact such as shaking hands, hugging, kissing, sneezing, coughing, nor from the shared usage of telephones, computers, crockery, cutlery, towels or toilets. Even in the medical sphere, where one might by chance come into contact with other people’s blood, any infection risk can be rendered practically impossible by adherence to appropriate hygienic measures.

How high is the risk that an employee with HIV will take sick leave?

A positive HIV test reveals nothing about a person’s working capacity Thanks to medical progress, an infection with the HI virus became a chronic illness which does not necessarily lead to AIDS. HIV related instances of sick leave are generally not frequent and remain short-termed. An employee with AIDS may, under certain circumstances, become very ill, but may just as quickly get well again and return to work. The likelihood of absence can be reduced or avoided by making any necessary adjustments such as rescheduling of working hours, etc.