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Author Topic: You Can't Fly A Plane W/ HIV!?  (Read 2638 times)

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Offline FiercenBed

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You Can't Fly A Plane W/ HIV!?
« on: January 06, 2008, 01:45:56 AM »
i need a carrier change! and have started looking into aviation. iv done the research and set the appointment with the flight instructor. with the package that came in the mail therez a whole bunch of stuff about a medical exam you have to pass. buried down in the middle is a pretty specific paragraph how if you have hiv you must apply for a special medical waiver from the faa which is reviewed on a case by case basis. it is very specific about what medicines you can take, doctor you have to see and when, what your viral loads <1,000 and cd4 counts ( the have to be stable for two consecutive test) have to be and so on and so on. you have to release your medical records and take some type of cognitive test. if the faa denies the exam you have to appeal and i quote, "it can be very expensive". this never occurred to me

after starting meds im pretty healthy and have no mental disorders, but im not suppressed and my vl is all over the place. therez some chatter on the internet about pilots who conceal their status. it also sez therez only about 200 pilots with this exemption and it takes about 6 months to get. just 200; i find that hard to believe.

i guess im kinda upset cause this is the first time i feel discriminated against. i mean this is the first time this desease is restricting me from something i want to do.  i was really excited about the carrier move. anyone out their or know someone w/ a pilots license and is poz? howa bout someone in the medical field with an oppinion. think i should try and slide by and not disclose? be rebel without a cause and jump through the hoops? or just give the whole thing up & move on?
« Last Edit: January 06, 2008, 12:04:45 PM by FiercenBed »

Offline Cliff

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Re: You Can't Fly A Plane W/ HIV!?
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2008, 06:30:27 AM »
It's not just about the virus itself, but also the medications you are on.  The FAA needs to know that you aren't on any medication that may impair your ability to fly a plane.  For example, the FAA may be concerned if you were recently prescribed Sustiva because of its neurological side effects.

Also, I know you are just starting out, but you should also check with the various carriers.  Some of them may have specific HIV test requirements.  For example, some countries do not allow people to enter (legally) if they have HIV.  So the carrier would need to know if any of its pilots/crew are HIV positive, so as not to schedule them to travel to those countries.  I know that may be a longs way off issue for you if you are just starting out, but it's something to consider at some point.

Speak to your doctor.  If your doctor believes that you are healthy enough and that your meds do not affect your ability to fly a plane, then go for it!  Afterall the FAA will likely need your doctor's opinion anyway, so she/he is the first place to start.  I think there are also some organisations that can help with your FAA application.  You could hire them, but they may be fairly expensive.

Good luck!

Offline mjmel

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Re: You Can't Fly A Plane W/ HIV!?
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2008, 07:04:29 AM »
wow! that would be quite an adventuresome career change, Ben.

Mike M

Offline FiercenBed

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Re: You Can't Fly A Plane W/ HIV!?
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2008, 11:48:09 AM »
im not talking about flying a 747 here from new york to paris. if you know anything about flying a small plane or even used a flight simulator; itz pretty much like driving a car. as they say in my flight training video when you want to turn left you dont look at the instrumentation board; you look out the window.

are we saying people on sustiva shouldnt drive a car? be assured if i get into a plane and cant complete the check list im not going to fly it. i would hope the same would be true with someone before they put the key in the ignition of an automobile. we dont have to disclose hiv status to the motor vehicle administration. should we have to go the mva every 6 months to get reevaluated like the faa requires?

my thread point here is it seems the federal government as usual is placing unjust restrictions on people w/ hiv. i cant find any commentary by medical professionals on the internet who state an opinion to justify this action specific to hiv. if im competent to fly the plane; i can fly the plan. if i can pass the test like joe negative, i shouldnt have to disclose my status. does having a viral load under 1,000 make me a safer pilot?

an old post on 'the body' even stated they didnt know much about this specific concern and you should contact your union rep. seems like this discrimination has just fallen through the cracks or hasnt gotten much attention.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2008, 11:58:16 AM by FiercenBed »

Offline bocker3

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  • You gotta enjoy life......
Re: You Can't Fly A Plane W/ HIV!?
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2008, 12:33:53 PM »
It seems to me that the FAA should insure that pilots are fit to fly.  They aren't saying that HIV makes you ineligible, they just want to be sure that there isn't any issues that could place you and your passengers at risk.  The medicine issue is probably bigger than just Sustiva -- if you are flying along and suddenly get hit with a severe case of med induced diarrhea or nausea, you are pretty much screwed, unlike when you are driving a car and can quickly pull over.  Driving a car and driving a plane are 2 very different endeavors.
There are probably a whole host of medical conditions that cause a 2nd glance from the FAA -- they may not list them, but would come out during the physical.  My guess is an insulin dependent diabetic might have some trouble too.
So -- go ahead with your plans, see what happens, if others have gotten the waiver you may too.  If you don't, at least try to remember that the FAA is trying to insure the safety of pilots and passengers.

Good luck
Atripla - Started 12/05
Reyataz/Norvir - Added 6/06
Labs - Pre-Meds
Sep05 T=350/25% VL98,559
Nov05 288/18%  47,564
Current Labs
May2015 969/28% <20

Offline Cliff

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Re: You Can't Fly A Plane W/ HIV!?
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2008, 01:01:46 PM »
I think you are putting the cart before the horse.  You haven't been denied yet (nor applied).  A denial, once all required information is submitted, is pretty rare.  HIV is a reportable condition, and not the only one, but it doesn't automatically result in a denied waiver.   The FAA  just wants to make sure you can safely operate an aircraft despite having a chronic medical condition requiring multiple prescription meds that can have significant side effects. 

I do agree with Mike, the regulations for flying an aircraft should be more stringent than driving a car.   :-[

Offline minismom

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Re: You Can't Fly A Plane W/ HIV!?
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2008, 01:42:31 PM »
My father is a pilot and has had his glider's license since he was 15yrs old (he could legally fly before he could drive). He has  to take an FAA flight physical every year from an FAA approved doctor.  He said it's an intensive physical, but costs a small fortune that most insurances don't pay 100% for (because it costs more than insurance says it should.)  Anyway, about 15 years ago he was put on a medication.  The FAA had no qualms with the medication itself, but when he developed vertigo from the medication, the FAA suspended his pilot license until he could "prove" that he would #1: not need the medication anymore and #2: that he was not suffering any long-term / perminant side-effects once he stopped the medication.  Now, before he takes ANY prescription medication, he makes sure it is FAA approved and double checks the side-effects.   Also, he's supposed to report to the FAA any ailment that he feels will impair his ability to fly.  This could be something as "small" as bad cold as high altitudes make the pressure a lot worse. I agree with the folks here.  I don't thnk that it's necessarily the HIV itself as the medications and possibiliy of having some sort of secondary infection (like pneumonia) that could impair your ability to fly.  Also, about looking out the window to turn, part of you flight test will be an "instrument only" test, depending what sort of qualification you are going for.  They put a visor thing on you so that you can't see out of the window.  You are expected to fly using only the instruments. 

Good luck to you on your adventure!  Flying is an awsome way to see the world!

"Whichever way you throw me, i will stand"
"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today...it's already tomorrow in Australia"  Charles Schultz


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