Neither current nor previous guidance from the DfE suggests that blood borne viruses, such as HIV and AIDS, carry a greater risk to the health and safety of pupils than any other condition. Guidance from the former DCSF provided as follows:
“Teaching duties do not include any activities which carry a greater than normal risk of transmission of blood borne viruses from teacher to pupil. If an individual is otherwise fit, they should not be excluded from teaching on the grounds that they are the carrier of a blood borne virus.”
It would amount to disability discrimination to dismiss a member of staff, or refuse to appoint a job applicant for having HIV/AIDS.
Which barriers are you likely to face at work?
HIV/AIDS is likely to affect all aspects of your working practice because of the overriding effects of tiredness/fatigue and the inability of the body to fight common infections such as colds and flu.
Some of the common symptoms of HIV are:
- Weight loss;
- Fatigue and weakness;
- Respiratory impairment;
- Light sensitivity or visual impairment;
- Difficulty concentrating;
- Chronic diarrhoea;
- Side-effects of medication;
What kind of adjustments may be considered?
According to the National AIDS Trust (NAT), most workers with HIV require adjustments while undergoing treatment or changing medication. Otherwise most workers with HIV carry on with their working lives much like any other worker.
The NAT believes workers with HIV are likely to request the following adjustments on the rare occasions when they do need adjustments to be made:
- Occasional home working;
- Flexible working hours;
- Secluded rest areas and regular breaks;
- Time-off to attend hospital and clinic appointments;
- Time-off for counselling;
- Easy access to drinking water;
- Lighting control in work areas;
- Disability leave for colds and flus and other infections brought on by working in close proximity with children;
- Safe and confidential places for storage of medication;
- Advance notification of changes to routine;
- Nearby access to disabled toilets.