Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a complex disorder marked by a breakdown in the body’s immune system that leaves the person defenseless against a host of life-threatening infections. The consensus among medical researchers is that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) — the virus that causes AIDS — is a very fragile one not transmitted by casual contact, even in family settings. There is currently no medical evidence that the virus is transmitted through the air, in food, or by contact with surfaces handled by people who are HIV-positive. Further, although the HIV has been found in various body fluids, current available epidemiologic data does not indicate the virus can be transmitted by saliva, sweat, or tears. The most frequent means of transmission are through intimate sexual contact, the sharing of hypodermic needles, or by direct infusion of infected blood or blood products.
Two things are known from research on the transmission and progression of AIDS:
- AIDS is a fatal disease with devastating progression for individuals whose AIDS-defining illness cannot be reversed once it has begun.
- Because of its limited and peculiar modes of transmission, the intrusion of HIV into the uninfected population may be reduced if appropriate precautionary measures are taken.
Current information about HIV infection does not ordinarily justify or require warning others of the presence of an individual who is HIV-positive or has an AIDS-defining illness. It is hoped that the following institutional policy statement and guidelines, based on the best available medical information, will facilitate a reasoned response to this serious public health challenge.
Consistent with the general policy of the college not to discriminate, the college will take appropriate steps to promote the safety and welfare of all students, faculty and staff, including those individuals who are HIV-positive and those with an AIDS-defining illness. These individuals will be allowed to continue with their normal college activities in the same manner as people with other medical conditions, except in situations with a medical risk to themselves or others. Risk will be determined by medical diagnoses and appropriate medical consultation, based on current HIV/AIDS information.
Determinations: The following policy and guidelines will be in effect where there is a medical risk to individuals who are HIV-positive, to those with an AIDS-defining illness, and/or to others. A person’s HIV/AIDS status will be determined according to the Centers for Disease Control’s definition of HIV/AIDS in effect at the time a case is being reviewed by appropriate medical consultants and college decision-making personnel.
Should it be determined by medical testing and evaluation that an employee is HIV-positive or has an AIDS-defining illness, with the consent of the individual, the Vice President for Finance and Administration will be informed. If that person is a student, with the consent of the student, the Vice President for Student Life will be informed. In the absence of consent, the responsibility to protect the confidentiality of information is superseded by the necessity to protect others only in circumstances involving a very clear and specific risk to specific other people.
Following consultation with the HIV-positive individual and appropriate college and medical personnel, a decision regarding risk to self or others will be made on a case-by-case basis by the appropriate vice president, as defined in the preceding paragraph. In the event the parties involved find the decision unfavorable, they may request a review of the decision with the President’s Council.
Personnel policies: The same benefits, sick leave, and vacation will be accorded people who are HIV-positive or have an AIDS-defining illness as with any other medical condition. Similarly, the same standards of job expectation and procedures of performance evaluation will be accorded staff and faculty members who are HIV-positive or have an AIDS-defining illness, as with any other medical condition.
Confidentiality: It is the policy of the college to treat medical information about students, faculty, and staff in strict confidence. The college will not alter this commitment with respect to the medical records of individuals who are HIV-positive or have an AIDS-defining illness. The affected individual may choose to release such information. Disclosure of information about these individuals at the college will be limited to those who need to know to reasonably accommodate the affected individuals. Disclosure or dissemination of information will be made only with the approval of or by the individual who is HIV-positive or has an AIDS-defining illness or at the direction of the president of the college. Except to the extent that disclosure may be required by law, the college will not disclose information to individuals or entities outside the college.
Health Service: The Noah Campus Health Clinic does not have the resources to provide comprehensive health services to people who are HIV-positive or have an AIDS-defining illness. Such individuals will be referred to a medical facility or other sites for testing and/or to the appropriate medical centers for education, consultation, and/or treatment. The Noah Campus Health Clinic will attempt to remain abreast of current medical information pertaining to AIDS and disseminate information as appropriate.
Education and Counseling: The college has an education and counseling program through the Noah Campus Health Clinic and the Counseling Center, which includes in-service training for staff, sexual health education programs for students, and the development and distribution of informational pamphlets on a variety of topics. Both offices will, upon request, make confidential referrals for students, staff, and faculty to outside agencies. A counselor at the Counseling Center is available to students for individual and/or group counseling.
Additional Information: Students, faculty, and staff who seek additional information regarding the implementation of the college’s guidelines and policy on HIV and AIDS or who seek education or counseling on this issue may contact as appropriate:
- Director of Noah Campus Health Clinic, 319-352-8437
- Director of Counseling Services, 319-352-8539
- Vice President for Finance and Administration, 319-352-8276
- Vice President for Student Life, 319-352-8745
- President of Wartburg College, 319-352-8450