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HIV and AIDS

Can An HIV+ Person Work In The Food Industry?

05/21/2003

Question:

Hello doctor, I`m the owner of a Pizza store for the past 5 years. I have a good store manager managing my store from the past one year. I have discovered that he is infected with HIV as I grew suspicious about his medications, eventually found out about the medicines he takes through the internet. He is taking "Videx" and "Epivir". My questions are: 1) Is it safe for him to work in a food industry? 2) Will he be risking the health of other workers in the store? 3) Are there any legal implications if I ask him to quit? I would highly appreciate if you could give the right advice. Best Regards.

Answer:

 HIV infection is a virus that is passed through sexual contact or direct blood to blood contact (like a blood transfusion). Casual contact (like living with someone, working, going to school) is not risky. In the normal day of someone that works at a restaurant there would be no reason to be concerned about HIV passing from one person to another. Your restaurant is safe, your employees are safe and your customers are safe. The infections that tend to be more contagious (catchy) in restaurants are things like hepatitis A, salmonella and other regular types of virus infections. The usual health rules should apply and employees should regularly wash their hands. If any employee were to accidentally cut themselves I would recommend that person clean up any blood stain with regular household bleach on surfaces. You may know that this person is infected but there may be others who work for you that may be infected that you don`t know about. I am not a lawyer but there are laws against firing employees because of a health concern. The Americans with Disability Act provides some measure of recourse should an employee lose their job because they have an illness. Bottom line is that you should not worry. You and others won`t catch AIDS from someone you work with. Besides, it is hard to find a good manager. Your best bet is to talk to your employee about your concerns and tell him my response and move on to make your Pizza business a success. 

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Response by:

Carl   Fichtenbaum, MD Carl Fichtenbaum, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati