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Author Topic: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer  (Read 6790 times)

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Offline exarmyguy77

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Hello All,
      This is my first time posting here, I'm glad I found this venue because it lets me know I'm not alone out there dealing with all of this.  I suppose I will start with a little about how this all came about.  My last sexual encounter of any type was on November 8th and had been quite sometime before that.  My last negative test was in Feb.  A few days after my encounter I developed terrible diarrhea and didn't think much of it.  This lasted 4 days and finally seemed to have resolved itself, it was Sunday now and I felt pretty good.  I even played athletics all day long, I didn't feel bad but noticed myself a little more tired than normal at these things.  Monday came around and I felt good, I was tired from the previous day so I took a nap during the day, when I woke up I felt like hell and had a fever (yes, that fast)  The next morning I still wasn't feeling well (fever, ached all over) but I knew something wasn't quite right and it didn't feel like the flu.  I started thinking about how I was feeling and my encounter and called my doctor and went in, I asked to be tested but he informed me that they didn't do those at his office and said I probably just had the flu.  After leaving the office I found a walk in clinic and got tested, it was negative.  A day or two went by and the symptoms got considerably worse and I couldn't control the fever and ached all over, I felt like death... much worse than any "flu" I had before, I still didn't feel as if I had the flu.  I called the ID clinic and asked them if they could test me and they had me come in that day (Thursday) and they did a rapid on me which was negative, I asked if they could do a blood draw and actually test for the virus and they did.  I remained ill all weekend and unable to break the fever no matter what I did.  Monday came around and they called me and asked me to come in.  I arrived and was informed that I was positive with a viral load of over 3 million.  The doctor saw me immediately and I was started on Truvada, Ticavay, Norvir, and Prezista and they took a crazy amount of blood again from me.  I began taking meds that day and had no issues.  by Tuesday I had a terrible rash but was the fever was finally starting to be controlled.  Wednesday and Thursday (Thanksgiving) I was feeling better.  Friday the doctor called and told me my viral load was over 10 million and by cd4 was 218.  The rest of the week/weekend was uneventful and I continued taking meds as directed.  Monday came around (on meds for one week now) and I noticed that I had been getting extremely dizzy and having headaches along with strange sensations in my feet and legs.  I had diarrhea again and was taking immodium as well.  Tuesday the dizziness was much worse and I called the doctor and he advised to keep taking my meds.  Wednesday and Thursday were no different and I had to miss work due to the dizziness.  My case worker had mentioned that I could get FMLA for work if needed so I didn't get in trouble for missing.  So Thursday after having to call in I notified my HR department of wishing to take FMLA.  I told them why and they issued it with no problems and asked that my doctor sign a few papers.  Today (Friday) I get a call and they placed me on administrative leave because they are concerned for "my" well being and are worried that I'm a risk to patients (I'm a paramedic)   At this point I have many concerns and questions that I'm just not sure about so any input would be greatly appreciated.  Should I be concerned about my job?  What actions can I take to keep my job?  Is this dizziness normal?  How long does it last on average?  I understand with new infections viral loads start quite high, does 10 million seem a bit crazy?  Thanks to everyone for reading

Offline darryaz

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2013, 05:13:25 AM »
Is your case worker affiliated with an ASO (AIDS Service Organization)??

If so, ask to be connected with an attorney to protect your rights at work.  It is not to early to do so, in my opinion.  It is illegal for your employer to discriminate against you for your illness.

Offline RapidRod

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2013, 05:48:21 AM »
Being a Paramedic myself, I would suggest you work with your doctor to find a med that does not cause dizziness which can as you know, interfere with your patient care.

Offline mecch

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2013, 08:07:15 AM »
I don't have any suggestions or info about your job situation.  Get the specialists to help you protect your rights and also to inform you so you know what is useful to worry about and what is a waste of energy. Of course you should be concerned, and knowledge is power.

Just sending some support for this time.

How are you feeling now?
I had a similarly violent seroconversion. Identified in seroconversion as well.  Viral loads in he millions.
Even though you are on meds pronto its going to take awhile for you to feel fit and healthy.  Since your job is extremely physical and calls for so much alertness, it seems appropriate that you have this time to rest.  No matter what the motivations of you workplace are, the rest will do you good and its necessary anyway.

Drink a lot of water.  Get some antihistamines and get an ID doc you can see and contact frequently because you will need to sort out a lot about your labs, your instant treatment and all the shit your body is going through. What might be related to the treatment start, what is related to the acute HIV, and what is just the extreme stress of it all. 

I can promise you every week will be better.  Recovery is longer than for a flu, as you know.  (And a flu can be a week in bed, and then 2 more feeling like crap!). 
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline exarmyguy77

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2013, 11:49:16 AM »
Thanks everyone for the replies!  It's nice to know that there are people out there that are just like me and have similar stories (although it's unfortunate that anyone has to go through this, I'm just glad I'm not alone)  I have no idea if my case worker is part of ASO, to be honest I'm not really sure if he is actually a case worker.  He is a great guy and super nice but pretty difficult to get a hold of to be honest.  He was awesome showing me support, getting me into a doctor and getting me tested etc, also he was great at helping me out with my meds at the pharmacy.  My insurance did pay a large portion of them but still left me with a VERY large bill and they got me some coupons from the drug company.  To rapidrop.  I have been on meds for 12 days now, symptoms other than diarrhea didn't really start until day 7.  If I'm sitting at home they aren't to bad because I can sit still.  Things like riding in a car causes a lot of vertigo, etc and kind of sends my brain into overload.  I did call the clinic and ask to speak with a nurse when it happened.  They didn't call back until the following day.  I also paged the fellow on call whom never returned a phone call (i was having some SOB and palpations as well) and finally the nurse called back the next day and asked what was wrong and I explained, it was followed by a phone call several hours later saying the doctor doesn't want to change your meds at this time and it's probably metabolic.  My employer granted me FMLA for the vertigo.  They placed me on leave because they fear I could cause exposure to a patient and infect them (direct quote)  I work for a very large air medical company.  mecch thank you for the input on that, I will check into antihistimines.  I suppose I feel like I've recovered from the seroconversion and it just feels like its meds causing the issues.  I'm very type A personality and always feel like I need a plan or an anticipated recovery plan and need to know what is going on and what the pills are doing and how long it will take.  I go back to the doctor on the 16th, we will see what happens then.  Any other advice from anyone for dizziness?  Also rapidrod, do you know if for any reason they can refuse to let me work once the vertigo is resoloved?  I don't have sex with patients and bleed on them, I don't feel I'm a risk to anyone. 

Offline exarmyguy77

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2013, 11:52:44 AM »
also i will clarify, it was paid leave i placed on.  they stated they never have had a situation like this before and needed to see if the states that I operate in have rules and regulations about this.  any insight of specific rules for an HIV positive paramedic worker? 

Online buginme2

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2013, 01:14:39 PM »
Three things:

1.  Good job in discovering your infection so early in the process and starting meds right away.  Based on all the latest research you are helping yourself in great ways by treating this so early.  Don't stop taking the meds.  Really. 

2. Any side effects you experience will prob go away after a week or two so just stick it out.  Also, you may be able to simplify your meds.  I would suggest going with Truvada and tivicay once you are undetectable.  (As long as your resistance test supports it.)

3.  Are you a parametric for a local government or a private company.  If it's a local government ask your hr for an APF form (activity prescription form). Depending on the state you live in it may be called something else.   Basically, your doctor fills it out and will release you to work with or without restrictions.  Make sure you doctor clearly states you are released to work with no restrictions and are not an infectious risk to others. 

If you work for a government agency and they still don't allow you to work after your doctor releases you for full duty, contact your union (if your unionized, which most government paramedics would be).  At that point your union has a "duty to represent" to make sure you are returned to full duties. 

Also, I wish you had posted here before you went on FMLA. 

Offline mecch

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2013, 01:14:53 PM »
mecch thank you for the input on that, I will check into antihistimines.  I suppose I feel like I've recovered from the seroconversion and it just feels like its meds causing the issues.  I'm very type A personality and always feel like I need a plan or an anticipated recovery plan and need to know what is going on and what the pills are doing and how long it will take.  I go back to the doctor on the 16th, we will see what happens then.  Any other advice from anyone for dizziness?  Also rapidrod, do you know if for any reason they can refuse to let me work once the vertigo is resoloved?  I don't have sex with patients and bleed on them, I don't feel I'm a risk to anyone.
For the time being, HIV infection is forever. You will have some advantages going on HAART smack at the beginning of your seroconversion, but its still a major infection and everything will probably take some time to settle down. Also, for quite a few, the initiation of HAART is a bit of a shock to the system.  Eventually there as well, you get used to the treatment. Side effects go away.  Everyone is individual - who gets what on what combo. 
The bad news my friend for a Type A is that you can't predict a lot of this, how long,when, how its going to feel etc etc etc.  You have already seen that things move at their own pace as far as the testing, response times, appointments, monitoring, carefully considering things like treatment switches, etc.  Patiently dealing with side effects. 
Right away you should already be treating the diarrhoea with over the counter or prescription medicine.
I recommended the antihistamines because of the rash.  Who's to say if the rash is part of the HIV infection or the treatment - these are things that you discuss with your doctor and specialists. I had misc rashes all through my first year.  I had an allergic reaction to my second combination and my third. The fourth was a charm. The first was good, until it effected me psychologically.   All that took time, sorry to say.   But it is doable.  But it doesn't fall well into type A expectations or someone who can't make peace with answers that are "maybe, let's see, or let's try this or try that."
« Last Edit: December 07, 2013, 01:16:55 PM by mecch »
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline exarmyguy77

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2013, 01:33:51 PM »
Thanks guys.  I work for a private company, I really wish I would have posted here before FMLA as well.  I was just taking the advice of my case worker and trying to do the right thing.  I didn't want to be in trouble for missing work.  I have always had pretty much perfect attendance in school and work my whole life, people knew if I was calling in sick that there was something obviously wrong with me.  We do not have a union or anything, I'm pretty much at the mercy of my HR department right now and what they feel is right.  It makes me very sad because they are treating me like a risk.  They are uneducated and concerned that I may contact a patient that makes me more sick or I may touch someone and they contract the disease or they feel like I'll bleed all over someone and give it to them.  I understand their perspective but they have no idea how silly they sound with this.  Thank you all for your input.  I'm hoping that the symptoms improve soon and I may safely drive, etc so I can go to work and that my work makes the right choice in their action.  I really don't want the drama of having to find a new job that pays as well and explain what happened, etc.  I'm dishearted to know that we live in a society where people still treat HIV as if we need placed in a tube or something and we are all going to die. 

Offline Dan0

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2013, 03:05:28 PM »
Not that I work in the health field but I do work in a company with thousands of employees and we (managers, supervisors, directors) were mandated to go to intensive training on how to handle instances related to the ADA and HIPPA. 

The FMLA guidelines that we have to subscribe to are very rigid. In fact, the only person(s) who would review what the physician submitted on the FMLA forms would be one or two people in health services, and then what is disseminated is simply an 'approval' indicating that it is long-term or sporadic and an estimate of time needed which we have to make exceptions for.

Our group of highly paid lawyers in DC are resolute! No one in the management teams have any right to see what it is 'for'.  I have several people who have FMLA and the only thing that I know is that they 'may' be requiring time off due to this. When someone comes up to me and mentions that they need FMLA the first thing that I say QUICKLY is that I will get them the forms but they have no responsibility to disclose anything to me nor do I want them to!

What I took out of all this 'training' and as someone who is HIV positive in this work environment is that I have a LOT of rights, particularly in light of the ADA and HIPPA.  Don't lose sight of this. The most information that I received on all this came not from HR but from our Health Services department. They seem to be very focused on the issues and not with the interdepartmental crap that inserts itself into these things.

Best of luck!
You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches.

"Honey, you should never ask advice from a drunk drag queen who has a show to do." - JG

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Offline exarmyguy77

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2013, 03:17:28 PM »
Thanks Dano!  I feel they are doing well so far with not disclosing my status which I'm happy about.  It is the ignorance of saying and thinking that I'm a risk to patients and placing me on leave.   Does anyone out there feel they are a risk to people?

Offline mecch

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2013, 05:21:52 PM »
Well who exactly said what to you. If I were you, i would remember the details, dates, and quotes up to this date. Also, going forward, you should jot down anything else that occurs to you to be discriminatory in the same notebook. Time, date, means of communication, and person and quote.
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline xinyuan

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2013, 06:09:36 PM »
Thanks Dano!  I feel they are doing well so far with not disclosing my status which I'm happy about.  It is the ignorance of saying and thinking that I'm a risk to patients and placing me on leave.   Does anyone out there feel they are a risk to people?

In principle, if you go undetectable on consistent adherence to ART's (and by European standards, for at least 6 months), your risk of transmission to others is practically none. Not zero, mind you, but for all intents and purposes ...

It's sad that the US has yet to catch up policy-wise to other countries with newer data, rather than the other way around.

Offline pittman

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2013, 10:23:33 PM »
In principle, if you go undetectable on consistent adherence to ART's (and by European standards, for at least 6 months), your risk of transmission to others is practically none. Not zero, mind you, but for all intents and purposes ...

It's sad that the US has yet to catch up policy-wise to other countries with newer data, rather than the other way around.

I would clarify this.  While what you say is true, about being undetectable, remaining on medication, etc., you left off the part that you would also have to actually be doing something that risks transmission.  That really does not sound like its the case here, and if you add the use of universal precautions, I can't see any reasonable risk in what was being described, even if not yet undetectable.

Exarmyguy77, I would definitely educate yourself about any legal requirements for your location, by speaking with a knowledgable legal advisor referred by a local ASO.  I wouldn't think restrictions on your work would survive legal scrutiny once your symptoms are resolved from the acute infection and/or the meds.

In general, I am not aware of a requirement to disclose HIV status to employers, though in the medical field that may vary. Again, confirm with an attorney familiar with that.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2013, 10:26:40 PM by pittman »

Online buginme2

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2013, 11:04:55 PM »


It's sad that the US has yet to catch up policy-wise to other countries with newer data, rather than the other way around.

What are you talking about?  What policy are you speaking of?  The current US policy is far ahead of Europe as far as universal treatment.  Way ahead of Europe's 350 cd4 threshold. 

Offline Ann

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2013, 07:40:51 AM »

It's sad that the US has yet to catch up policy-wise to other countries with newer data, rather than the other way around.


What are you talking about?  What policy are you speaking of?  The current US policy is far ahead of Europe as far as universal treatment.  Way ahead of Europe's 350 cd4 threshold. 

I would imagine that he is talking about - for example - the UK has changed the law regarding surgeons and other medical personnel who do invasive procedures. From 2014, provided that person is on treatment with an UD VL, they are permitted to fully practice invasive procedures. I'm pretty sure this isn't the case in some states (at least) in the US.

The hiv criminalisation laws in most European countries are light-years ahead of the laws in the various US states as well. He's talking about this type of thing, not treatment guidelines. 

Exarmy, hi, welcome to the forums.

Technically speaking, once your VL is UD there is no reason why you should not be able to continue on with your job. However, state laws may vary and this is what you will need to look into.

Keep in mind that things like this will be based on "worst-case" scenarios. For example, if a paramedic is extracting someone from say, a car wreck, and accidentally cuts their hand on a jagged piece of metal, if they have a very high viral load they could potentially infect the crash victim if that victim has a deep cut that comes in direct contact with the paramedic's cut and bleeding hand. Likely to happen? No. Could it? Yes. But an UD VL would make it a non-issue.

It's the same thing with surgeons. Surgeons do have the potential to accidentally cut themselves while performing surgery. Likely to happen? No. Could it? Yes. If they have an UD VL, it won't matter. If they have a very high VL, it could be trouble.

I get the feeling you are very dedicated to your job, and being ex-army you probably have a lot of very valuable trauma experience. I hope you will be able to continue in such a noble profession. Good luck!

Ann
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"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

Offline xinyuan

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2013, 09:05:45 AM »
I would clarify this.  While what you say is true, about being undetectable, remaining on medication, etc., you left off the part that you would also have to actually be doing something that risks transmission.  That really does not sound like its the case here, and if you add the use of universal precautions, I can't see any reasonable risk in what was being described, even if not yet undetectable.

He mentioned he's a paramedic. There may be situations (extremely rare, mind you) where he could inadvertently expose patients, like the scenario Ann mentions above. Positive health care workers, and all of us in general, have yet to recover completely from the stigma caused by Dr. Acer's case with Kim Bergalis.

Some state governments may find his case as "something that risks transmission." After all, they may legally require disclosure from first responders of positive status. Even if they are on ART's and UD.

I agree with Ann's post above.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2013, 09:13:09 AM by xinyuan »

Offline xinyuan

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2013, 09:15:59 AM »
Remember coming across this not to long ago. Shortly after finding out my status.

May be a newer version around.

http://hivlawandpolicy.org/resources/guidelines-hiv-positive-health-care-workers-center-hiv-law-policy

Offline Ann

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #18 on: December 08, 2013, 09:35:10 AM »
Remember coming across this not to long ago. Shortly after finding out my status.

May be a newer version around.

http://hivlawandpolicy.org/resources/guidelines-hiv-positive-health-care-workers-center-hiv-law-policy

Great link. Thanks for posting it, I've bookmarked it as I'm sure it will come in handy again sometime. It seems to be an up-to-date website, so I'm guessing that the laws haven't changed since they published that chart in 2008. There's an excellent chance that if there had been changes, they would have altered the chart.
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"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

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HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

Online Miss Philicia

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #19 on: December 08, 2013, 09:35:11 AM »
I hope that when Europeans on this forum make broad statements about Europe being ahead with this, that, and the other that they make sure to take note that Europe's borders stretch all the way to the Ural Mountains and not the Oder river.
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Offline Theyer

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #20 on: December 08, 2013, 04:44:38 PM »
Hi exarmy, I hope things are settling down both in your health and work . As you have said that it helps you to plan ahead, have goals, can I suggest one off those will be to seek out an ID doctor that you feel good with hopefully working in a organization that that is also supportive. I am hoping you live somewhere where there is some choice.

Regarding work , Keep a diary off every contact , Meech I think said to write down as much as you remember , just keep on doing that even if all seems fine and dandy. My personal opinion on them from your report is not at all good.

Other than that I think the speed that you dealt with all of this is amazing.
Best Wishes
m
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Offline Dr.Strangelove

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #21 on: December 08, 2013, 10:22:52 PM »
I hope that when Europeans on this forum make broad statements about Europe being ahead with this, that, and the other that they make sure to take note that Europe's borders stretch all the way to the Ural Mountains and not the Oder river.
How do you know Xinyuan is European?

Offline pittman

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #22 on: December 09, 2013, 01:00:33 AM »
He mentioned he's a paramedic. There may be situations (extremely rare, mind you) where he could inadvertently expose patients, like the scenario Ann mentions above. Positive health care workers, and all of us in general, have yet to recover completely from the stigma caused by Dr. Acer's case with Kim Bergalis.

Some state governments may find his case as "something that risks transmission." After all, they may legally require disclosure from first responders of positive status. Even if they are on ART's and UD.

I agree with Ann's post above.

As was suggested, one should always be informed of legal requirements. That is just self preservation.

That aside, giving the basis for those legal requirements any credence at all by dreaming up Rube Goldberg paths to infection does nothing but strain rationality and perpetuate the phobias upon which those laws were founded.

Lightening fatally strikes an average of about 51 people in the US each year. By contrast, from 1981 to 2010, there were 57 documented cases of healthcare workers thought to have become infected from the patients. (http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/organisms/hiv/Surveillance-Occupationally-Acquired-HIV-AIDS.html)

To the best of my knowledge, the CDC has only found 5 cases TOTAL in all the years they have monitored where patients were infected from their healthcare worker, including Kim Bergalis.

It is both unreasonable and harmful to perpetuate bad science that would have someone think they are putting others at any risk worthy of consideration if they follow the universal precautions that they should already be doing.


Offline exarmyguy77

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #23 on: December 09, 2013, 03:22:14 AM »
Thank you everyone for your answers and support, I can't even get this many people to pay attention to my facebook posts!   I live in the St. Louis, Mo.  area, honestly I have no clue what the resources are for legal issues here if any, I guess I will start calling lawyers and see what happens.  I have found a place in Chicago that specializes in this sort of thing, I play on giving them a call in the morning.  I will let you all know what happens!

Offline pittman

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #24 on: December 09, 2013, 09:24:53 AM »
If you hadn't yet looked at it, the link that xinyuan posted was informative, even if we aren't sure how current it is.

Best of luck. Sorry you have to deal with this, but you seem to be taking charge of the situation and that will serve you well.

Offline xinyuan

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #25 on: December 09, 2013, 11:04:28 PM »
pittman,

I do not disagree with your reasoning at all.

I just wish at least a majority of the country and the world would catch up to your reasoning.

The laws and actions speak much louder as to what the majority think.

Offline pittman

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #26 on: December 09, 2013, 11:28:30 PM »
pittman,
The laws and actions speak much louder as to what the majority think.

Alas, so they do.

Offline exarmyguy77

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #27 on: December 11, 2013, 07:38:51 PM »
Hello everyone.  Just an update on the situation.  I was advised that tonight my employer was holding a meeting at 430 to discuss my situation with legal council.  I have a meeting in the morning at 10:15 with the HR department.  I did seek legal council for myself to be proactive.  This is more/less what I was told... This applies to my situation as a paramedic and not all healthcare workers.  Since I am routinely exposed to blood, etc. the general consensus is that I pose as a risk to patients. (silly, I know but I do understand the fear associated with this)  having said that, my lawyer felt that my employer would be within their rights to terminate me since I could not do my job duties.  He stated that he anticipates that I should be offered a spot elsewhere in the company where I am not exposed to blood if there are any to be had.  The problem he stated with this is the following, they pretty much can stick me where ever and at whatever base pay that is.  He also stated that if there are no jobs to be had that I am pretty much sol (shit out of luck)  With my set of training and skills being so specific it is also unlikely that I fit criteria for other jobs that may be open.  Obviously I can't do certain things being a paramedic.  I did ask if he felt there was a chance I would be allowed to return to work as I was before and he said he highly doubted it. I will keep you all updated of what happens.  Lesson to be learned?  It pains me to say and is very unsettling, but don't disclose to your employer PERIOD!   

Offline mecch

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #28 on: December 11, 2013, 10:47:20 PM »
Hmm. Well good luck for tomorrow.
I am going to assume your lawyer did check there is a law/regulation in your state that supports this ban of you doing your job.  And is not advising you out of his own ignorance and fear...   Your removal should not be based on a "general consensus" of risk,  it should be specifically underlined by law. 
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline RapidRod

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #29 on: December 11, 2013, 11:02:08 PM »
I never lost my job due to my status, but I do know if I were having dizzy spells I wouldn't be able to do my job safely. I do not see any reason for you not being able to do your job as long as you get over the dizziness issue. Good luck.

Offline exarmyguy77

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #30 on: December 12, 2013, 03:29:04 AM »
Thank you, the dizziness isn't their concern.   They are concerned about exposure to patients

Offline exarmyguy77

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #31 on: December 12, 2013, 03:39:10 AM »
I did just find this, I feel that it pertains almost perfectly to my situation.  I pulled this directly off of the ada.gov website (americans with disabilities)  I would think that this would be hard to argue for my employer coming directly from the government.  Who knows though. 

Can an employer consider health and safety when deciding whether to hire an applicant or retain an employee who has HIV or AIDS?

Yes, but only under limited circumstances. The ADA permits employers to establish qualification standards that will exclude individuals who pose a direct threat—i.e., a significant risk of substantial harm—to the health or safety of the individual him/herself or to the safety of others, if that risk cannot be eliminated or reduced below the level of a “direct threat” by reasonable accommodation. However, an employer may not simply assume that a threat exists; the employer must establish through objective, medically-supportable methods that there is a significant risk that substantial harm could occur in the workplace. By requiring employers to make individualized judgments based on reliable medical or other objective evidence—rather than on generalizations, ignorance, fear, patronizing attitudes, or stereotypes—the ADA recognizes the need to balance the interests of people with disabilities against the legitimate interests of employers in maintaining a safe workplace.

Transmission of HIV will rarely be a legitimate “direct threat” issue. It is medically established that HIV can only be transmitted by sexual contact with an infected individual, exposure to infected blood or blood products, or perinatally from an infected mother to infant during pregnancy, birth, or breast feeding. HIV cannot be transmitted by casual contact. Thus, there is little possibility that HIV could ever be transmitted in the workplace. For example:

    A restaurant owner may believe that there is a risk of employing an individual with HIV as a cook, waiter or waitress, or dishwasher, because the employee might transmit HIV through the handling of food. However, HIV and AIDS are specifically not included on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list of infectious and communicable diseases that are transmitted through the handling of food. Thus, no direct threat exists in this context.

    An employer may believe that an emergency medical technician (“EMT”) with HIV may pose a risk to others when performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. However, the use of universal precautions among emergency responders means that the EMT will be using a barrier device while performing resuscitation.

The example was even an EMT.  I'm going to use it!   Wish me luck!

Offline mecch

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #32 on: December 12, 2013, 06:09:29 AM »
Yes that is what i was hoping you would find. Also while I encourage you to personally see if you can protect your job, I would also suggest you HIRE a lawyer experienced in these matters and who tells you that you have a case, and that he/she pursues any discrimination you might experience.
If the lawyer already quoted above did not provide you laws that justified his/her advice that you could be legally fired, its a red flag.
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline Dan0

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #33 on: December 12, 2013, 06:43:06 AM »
I've been asking a lot of questions about this and the basic commonality I've been finding is that there is still a lot of confusion on how all these various laws are applied and that most are more inclined to err on the side of caution to prevent discrimination litigation. The reference to the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 comes up as the first reference and I've heard a half dozen people mention it. It states that it-  .....' prohibits discrimination against otherwise qualified handicapped persons who are able to perform the duties required by their employment '. From there, a boat load of various other laws come into play that serve to define that in the advent if HIV/AIDS, which wasn't around when it was created, particularly the ADA.

Seems pretty upfront. Then you throw on everything else including the Americans With Disabilities Act and it is a wonderful mess. Wonderful for us...a mess for anyone trying to muddle through it.

One of the people (in an HR capacity) I queried indicated exactly what was stated before....don't disclose. Of course, said with the caveat that 'You didn't hear it from ME!'. Someone in legal just grabbed his forehead and asked in a hushed voice, "Why are you asking about this?"

Hoping the best for you!
« Last Edit: December 12, 2013, 06:50:37 AM by Dan0 »
You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches.

"Honey, you should never ask advice from a drunk drag queen who has a show to do." - JG

06/2002 DX
10/2006 Atripla UD
10/2013 Stribild Still UD

Offline Ann

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #34 on: December 12, 2013, 08:46:36 AM »

Since I am routinely exposed to blood, etc.


They're not making one iota of sense with this reasoning. YOU are being exposed to THEIR blood, not the other way around. You are the one potentially being exposed to blood-borne pathogens, not them.

It's got to be rare in the extreme that the attending EMT would also be bleeding and if he or she was, it would more likely than not be such a catastrophic event that saving of the life of the injured would be paramount before any viral concerns.

And once you have an undetectable viral load, it becomes a moot point anyway. Hiv is extremely difficult to transmit in these type of situations at the best of times anyway, because hiv does not remain viable outside the body, in the environment.

Good luck! Who knows, your situation may set a (good) legal precedent. Please keep us updated.
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Offline Habersham

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #35 on: December 12, 2013, 10:33:32 AM »
Thanks everyone for the replies!  It's nice to know that there are people out there that are just like me and have similar stories (although it's unfortunate that anyone has to go through this, I'm just glad I'm not alone)  I have no idea if my case worker is part of ASO, to be honest I'm not really sure if he is actually a case worker. 

Hey Exarmy,

I was reading your post and was wondering if you found out where your caseworker is from yet? Is he from an Aids Service Organization or AS0? He could be from the health department. If so it might be best to speak with someone at an ASO. They might be able to put you in touch with legal counsel in your area - either a nonprofit or paid attorney. They might also be able to help you obtain additional coverage for your meds through ADAP or Ryan White depending what it's called in your area. I did some online research and St. Louis Effort for Aids seems to be the largest one. Here is their website:
http://www.stlefa.org/

If you still haven't found a knowledable attorney regarding your case you might try the ACLU in your city. If it's not something they would handle they could probably give you some referrals.
http://www.aclu-mo.org/

Good Luck!


Because I Can

Offline Piscean

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #36 on: December 12, 2013, 07:31:09 PM »
Hi Exarmy,
If you reside or work in Illinois you should reach out to AIDS Legal Council of Chicago.

http://www.aidslegal.com/

The AIDS Legal team are highly experienced experts in employment law as I relates to HIV.  I found them to be a great resource when in similar circumstances. If you suspect your lawyer is not knowledgeable in this area, call AIDS Legal ASAP.

Best to you. Please keep us updated.

Offline exarmyguy77

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #37 on: December 13, 2013, 12:57:50 AM »
Hello All,
      I had a meeting today with my HR department.  This is what they are requesting that I do.  I am licensed in 6 different states.  They have removed me from doing any type of work that deals with patients directly since the only nature that our company deals with patients is emergency situations and transfers.  They want me to contact each state license board/department of health and set up panel interviews where I discuss my situation, my health, mental well being, etc.  and leave the decision up to them.  If they say I'm ok I may return back to work, if not then I'm not allowed.  Here is the stipulation.  We have 116 bases, each base covers different states or different areas.  If I am lucky enough to find a state or states that say I'm ok I then have to wait for an employment opportunity to open at that particular base.  Not very feasible in my opinion and can take months to complete.  The state of Arkansas has already basically said hell no and I'm pretty sure my license is being pulled there, I'm not sure and don't really care though about that particular state because I don't live close to there and it only keeps me from working at a fraction of the bases we have in the company.  My second option they gave is to forgo the panel in each state and apply for a job else where in the company.  Unfortunately there are currently no jobs that are even remotely similar to what I do now open and the ones that I would be qualified for have MUCH lower pay scales. 
   
Another problem this brings up.  The laws in each state are not black and white, one agency says this, another says that, nobody has a straight answer.  The one thing all of them have in common is this, you do not have to disclose your status and they can't ask!  That means if I chose not to tell anyone I can go about my business and work as I always did and it is perfectly legal and no questions asked.  Heaven forbid someone do what I did and disclosed a positive status, all hell breaks lose and panic strikes and now they can't care for people.  If I approach these boards like my employer wants so I can satisfy their request I am risking each state agency I ask to say no and NEVER being able to care for another person again, where as if I keep my mouth shut they can't ask and I don't tell and I do what I've always done.  (not with my present company though)

The problem is finding people whom are expert on the subject and the situation is further complicated by multiple states being involved. 

I have wanted to do this job since I was 5 when a helicopter whisped away my sister, I worked hard every day, I went to school, I got advanced certifications and I built a reputation in the community for myself of being one of the best at my job so they would hire me.  Caring for people makes me feel good about myself and I love doing it.  I loyally and faithfully believe that every single person I care for deserves an exceptional experience.  These people are scared, sick, sometimes dying (or at least think they are) and I enjoy being there to care for them and try to make it a little less scary for them.  I can't just give up what I do, I love my job and I have to fight for it.  More importantly as I discovered the hard way and I'm sure many before me have as well and others will to, there is NO clear guidelines that everyone agrees on for healthcare workers.  I feel no matter what the outcome somebody needs to stand up and fix this problem.  If I have to take my case to the supreme court so nobody else has to go through this I will!  Sorry, I'm off my soap box now!  hehe. 

I will add that my employer although I don't like their choice has not terminated me and they are actually still giving me full benefits and pay while this is being resolved.  Good for them and me!  I am VERY appreciative of that. 

When I find out more I will let you all know!  Thanks for your support and thoughts.  As I stated before I'm 2.5 weeks into my diagnoses and everything is so overwhelming that is going on and this on top of it makes things very stressful, I don't have a big support network of people to discuss my concerns and questions with so I appreciate each and every one of you! 

Offline exarmyguy77

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #38 on: December 13, 2013, 01:10:30 AM »
Hey Exarmy,

I was reading your post and was wondering if you found out where your caseworker is from yet? Is he from an Aids Service Organization or AS0? He could be from the health department. If so it might be best to speak with someone at an ASO. They might be able to put you in touch with legal counsel in your area - either a nonprofit or paid attorney. They might also be able to help you obtain additional coverage for your meds through ADAP or Ryan White depending what it's called in your area. I did some online research and St. Louis Effort for Aids seems to be the largest one. Here is their website:
http://www.stlefa.org/

If you still haven't found a knowledable attorney regarding your case you might try the ACLU in your city. If it's not something they would handle they could probably give you some referrals.
http://www.aclu-mo.org/

Good Luck!

I actually called the ID clinic and stopped in (along with dragging everyone i know in to get tested) and spoke with the staff.  Apparently I don't actually have a case worker and didn't understand what the gentlemen was telling me.  I must admit I didn't fully understand what a case worker did either.  The gentlemen that I dealt with who initially helped me when I was tested, etc. use to be a case worker and just does retention now.  He is just a very nice man that I guess liked me and my story and took it upon himself to personally help me.  He is a great guy, he went above and beyond his duties to help me!  He did call in the pharmacy and helped me with my scripts.  My insurance paid over 5000 for the meds but that still left me with over a 500 bill I couldn't afford at that point in time.  When I spoke with the clinic I was told that I didn't qualify for case management due to income.  Since he did me such a huge favor with the meds and stuff and I thankfully still have insurance I'm not pursuing further assistance at this time.  I am capable and willing to make cut backs to my life style etc. to pay medical bills and allow that assistance to go to someone whom really needs it.  I am still currently working on an attorney whom is proficient with this type of stuff.  I have contacted St. Louis Effort for AIDS and they don't have legal services.  I have submitted emails and phone calls to the ACLU with no response back yet.  It's kind of amusing, I've always been the person to stand up for the under dog or for someone who needs it or can't fight for themselves.  I have never taken the time to do it for myself and pretty much have always allowed myself to be a door mat my whole life.  Now that I'm looking at the services available in my area there are wonderful organizations but still lacking a lot of stuff.  I think it's time to make a change  :)

Offline exarmyguy77

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #39 on: December 13, 2013, 01:15:03 AM »
Hi Exarmy,
If you reside or work in Illinois you should reach out to AIDS Legal Council of Chicago.

http://www.aidslegal.com/

The AIDS Legal team are highly experienced experts in employment law as I relates to HIV.  I found them to be a great resource when in similar circumstances. If you suspect your lawyer is not knowledgeable in this area, call AIDS Legal ASAP.

Best to you. Please keep us updated.

I suspect strongly that the legal advice that I sought didn't know his ass from a hole in the ground.  I've also found that not many people do with this matter!   So I will keep searching.  I actually seen that group while I was searching and got pretty excited until I realized their website said Chicago area and possibly residence or Illinois or something like that.  I live about 8 miles from the state line  :/  My parents live in Illinois but I haven't told them yet and not sure how I can, I don't need mail from the AIDS council going to there home just to get legal help.  lol   My mother still tries praying the gay away with her pentecostal believes and you know how they love "laying hands" on people.  My head hurts from the meds, after she awakes from her coma from me telling her I can't handle having the HIV prayed away by them.  I'll figure something out though!   Thanks for the input!

Offline RapidRod

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #40 on: December 13, 2013, 01:17:26 AM »
Are you a NR-EMT-P?

Offline exarmyguy77

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #41 on: December 13, 2013, 01:23:31 AM »
yes sir

Offline RapidRod

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #42 on: December 13, 2013, 01:27:44 AM »
Then all you need to do is contact the National Registry,

Offline exarmyguy77

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #43 on: December 13, 2013, 01:51:38 AM »
I don't even work under the NREMT.  It is just a license that I hold that allows me to get additional licenses in other states easier (sometimes)  Missouri, Kentucky, .... and so on have there own health departments, etc and aren't governed by the NREMT.  I don't know if that would be helpful to my situation or not.  A few of the states don't even recognize the NREMT when it comes to licensing :/

Offline RapidRod

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #44 on: December 13, 2013, 02:02:50 AM »
I don't even work under the NREMT.  It is just a license that I hold that allows me to get additional licenses in other states easier (sometimes)  Missouri, Kentucky, .... and so on have there own health departments, etc and aren't governed by the NREMT.  I don't know if that would be helpful to my situation or not.  A few of the states don't even recognize the NREMT when it comes to licensing
The Registry is recognized in all 50 states and there is only 4 states that have their own Registry but all are covered by the NR.

Offline exarmyguy77

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #45 on: December 13, 2013, 02:50:26 PM »
Thank you.  the NREMT only assisted me by saying I have met these common standards as far as skill sets and educations.  Each state still does their own licensing process and holds their own standard.  It just so happens that a lot accept the standard put forth by the NREMT.  My competency level and skills aren't being questioned so the NREMT would be no help.  I am perceived as a risk because of my status so there for have to go through the health departments of each state.   I am actually a proctor for the NREMT as well, they have no say so or jurisdiction in this matter.   If it was a case where I was negative and each state had an issue with the way I placed patients on a LSB potentially I could say well this is the standard the NREMT set up and I go by this.. then they would be helpful. 

Offline pittman

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #46 on: December 14, 2013, 08:09:32 AM »
First off, I have to say with all that is going on between you being recently diagnosed and your job, I am truely impressed with the way you seem to be dealing with it head on.

You said that you reached out to the ACLU, but not how. They have a special division for dealing with HIV related issues including discrimination.  They publish the number for this group, which is in NY, that may be the best starting point for you.

Here is a link to the page on their site talking about on discrimination and HIV, along with the phone number and web form for contacting them.

https://www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights_hiv-aids/hiv-civil-rightsbrknow-your-rights-workplace

Everything you are relating about your employer smacks of ignorance on the topic.  Even if they are genuinely good people they do not appear to have the proper information and advice to guide them. 

Since you have disclosed, you must now continue to take on the burden of securing that good advice from knowledgable individuals in this specific legal space to represent you.

Offline exarmyguy77

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #47 on: December 18, 2013, 06:31:12 PM »
thank you eveyone,  I apologize i havent been on in a few days, I just didnt't feel up to it.  Thank you Pittman for your kind words.  I attempted calling the ACLU different times with no call backs and unable to actually speak to somene who was helpful so I did the online complaint form. 

Just a few updates, I'm pretty excited about this one!   Infected 11/8/2013, fell ill (seroconversion, also I know whom my partners were and it had been a while  lol) on 11/18/2013,  negative rapid test on the 19th, and again on 21st, blood draw on the 21st, found out results on 11/25/2013 - postive with a VL of 3 million. 11/25/20213  blood work drawn again and started truvada, ticivay, norvir, prezista.  blood work from then was a cd4 of 218, VL of 10 million.  The meds caused lots of vertigo, dyspnea, etc initially but have resolved (the poo's are still an issue) but have resolved.   21 days later on 12/16/2013 labs taken and a cd4 of 945 and VL is now 237!!!!!!!!!  Super happy about that and pretty impressive! 

For my work situation at this time they are trying to force me into disability, I have refused and stated that I am fine and ready for work.   I found the EEOC which is the US govt equal employment opportumity commission whom is responible for enforcing equal opportunity employent and does education for companies whom are non compliant, but they also represent parties whom have been discriminated against.  I sat in their office for over 3 hours yesterday discussing my situation and fact finding, they stated that they feel that I have a very strong case and that several of my rights have been violated and they have failed to comply with several issues in regards.  They also stated that they will seek out "severe punishment" against them on a federal level that has nothing to do with me, such as fines and mandatory HIV education for all staff... I did request that part, I don't feel anyone should ever be put through this.  I did state that I wished for this to go to the supreme court and an example to be made of them because it wasn't only about my rights but the rights of everyone who has ever been discriminated against.  I am only seeking to be returned to duty at this time and not asking for anything else.  Wish me luck!

Offline pittman

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #48 on: December 18, 2013, 09:12:47 PM »
While I am not (currently) in a healthcare related industry and cannot definitively speak to differences, I am in management. I have gone through training every single year, on how to be compliant with ADA and non-descrimination requirement, and what's happend in your situation would have ended mostly likely in the firing of one or more managers if it had occured in my own company.

I sincerely hope that this is only arising out of ignorance as that has a reasonable hope of being corrected once confronted.  It would seem unlikely that this would go to court if hey get smart lawyers. Even if it did, then I can't see them winning or having an appetite for appeal. The case law on this is rather well established.

As to your tet results- that is great news! Those are fantastic results and you are practically undetectable already.

Offline Dan0

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Re: Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer
« Reply #49 on: December 18, 2013, 10:05:03 PM »
While I am not (currently) in a healthcare related industry and cannot definitively speak to differences, I am in management. I have gone through training every single year, on how to be compliant with ADA and non-descrimination requirement, and what's happened in your situation would have ended mostly likely in the firing of one or more managers if it had occured in my own company.


I could not agree more!  Perhaps I misread the progression of events but they're attempting to FORCE you into disability is something that just doesn't fly with ADA.  It is not up to the corporation to tell you when you're disabled - it's up to your doctor.  From everything mentioned - I would go out on a limb and say that YOU ARE NOT DISABLED!! (insert sarcasm here). This is where it sounds like they have no clue what they're talking about and are acting out of apprehension and fear....and a decidedly absent use of the phone to speak to their corporate counsel.  Then again, maybe their corporate counsel is an idiot?

The disabled card is a good one (for them) since in many instances it absolves them from having to make any reasonable accommodation. To me - and I could be very wrong on this - a reasonable accommodation would be to provide you a different work category until you are UD and that's only if there is some draconian law down there that touches on this.  Even then ADA trumps almost everything. In my company we've done numerous accommodations to allow for medical treatments and the like.

Glad you feel better about all this - hopefully things will continue to improve for you!
You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches.

"Honey, you should never ask advice from a drunk drag queen who has a show to do." - JG

06/2002 DX
10/2006 Atripla UD
10/2013 Stribild Still UD

 


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