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COM-007: HIV-Infected Health Care Workers

HIV-Infected Health Care Workers: The Wisconsin Medical Society believes it is the overall common goal of health care professionals to serve and protect their patients. The Society also believes that:

  • The potential transmission of HIV infection in the health care setting to patients or health care workers is best prevented by infection control practices known as standard precautions.
  • Mandatory HIV testing of health care workers is not recommended, nor should it be a requirement for employment, credentialing, licensure or professional liability insurance.
  • Court-ordered, involuntary or mandatory phlebotomy or obtaining of other body fluids for the purpose of HIV testing is only appropriate after a health care worker has sustained a significant exposure and if a specimen of the source patient’s blood or other body fluid is not otherwise available for HIV testing.
  • HIV testing must be on a voluntary basis, except in cases of known significant exposure as outlined above. All health care workers are encouraged to assess their need for HIV testing based on personal risk behaviors and risks of health care-related occupational exposure. Health care workers at risk should know their HIV status to protect and improve their health and to receive appropriate medical and occupational counseling.
  • HIV-positive status by itself should not be the basis for any restriction of the practice of medicine or surgery. While HIV infection does not impair a health care worker’s ability to perform his or her duties, complications or disease sequelae may. Infected health care workers should seek appropriate medical care and periodic evaluation of health status, and counseling on the advisability of continuing to work in health care or continuing particular activities.
  • Monitoring by the health care worker’s personal physician should be sufficient to determine whether such impairments exist. When the health care worker’s personal physician determines impairments may exist, it is recommended that the health care worker, with the advice of their physician, request that an ad hoc review body evaluate suspected or documented impairments, including the health care worker’s compliance with infection control protocols, and the worker’s mental and physical competence to continue to practice. Options for establishing an ad hoc review body could be at institutional, local, regional or professional society levels. Strict confidentiality must be maintained by any review body.
  • Support must be provided for the HIV-infected health care worker with regard to employment continuation, disability coverage and long-term health insurance availability. (HOD, 0416)