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HIV/AIDS Education for employees/workers ; Benefits of HIV and AIDS Prevention and Education

Focus of Worker Education

An effective staff/worker education program focuses on sharing life saving prevention information and maintaining a comfortable environment for HIV-positive workers and for their co-workers. It emphasizes individual privacy. Workers who are living with HIV may wish to withhold their status from co-workers, or they may wish to disclose it. The situation can be sensitive not only for workers with HIV but for everyone involved.

It is necessary for workers to understand the disease's characteristics and the possible transmission routes. Facts about HIV that every worker should know include:

HIV is spread by sexual contact with an infected person, by needle-sharing among injecting drug users, or, less commonly and now rarely, through transfusions of infected blood or clotting factors (parts of blood plasma that help in clotting). In most work situations, it is unlikely that employees will come into contact with blood or other blood-containing products. People working in some jobs, such as health care or law enforcement, could be at risk of blood exposure.

On-the-job exposure to HIV could occur if a person is:

  • Stuck by a needle containing HIV-infected blood
  • Splashed with HIV-infected blood in the eyes, nose, mouth, or on open cuts or sores

People working in jobs with heightened risk of exposure to HIV infection should have special training. They should be protected by Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requirements and special guidelines called “universal precautions.” If your workplace falls in these categories, learn more about OSHA and universal precautions.

HIV can be transmitted from an infected woman to her fetus or newborn during pregnancy, during labor and delivery, or after birth through breast-feeding.

HIV cannot be transmitted by sharing restrooms, tableware, or office equipment or by social or casual contact.

Why Is Family Education Important?

A successful comprehensive HIV/AIDS workplace program includes a family education component. An informed family can contribute to a healthier and more productive workforce. But with HIV infection rates among women and adolescents still increasing, our future workforce is at stake. Family education is a vital component in any workplace program.

The Benefits of Family Education

Businesses and unions can benefit from decreased healthcare costs by contributing to the health of workers and their family members. Proactive HIV/AIDS education can ensure that productivity in the workplace does not suffer due to the burden of taking care of an infected loved one or from discrimination by fearful co-workers. By providing facts about HIV infection to the adult workforce and their families, an employer can protect new generations from future infections and discrimination in the workplace.

Materials and technical assistance are available through the Business Responds to AIDS/Labor Responds to AIDS (BRTA/LRTA) Program. BRTA/LRTA can also refer you to organizations in your community that offer assistance with employee education.

To learn more about workplace/workforce/ and family education, click below:

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What is HIV and AIDS?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV is different from most other viruses because it attacks the immune system. The immune system gives our bodies the ability to fight infections. HIV finds and destroys a type of white blood cell that the immune system must have to fight infections. The more white blood cells HIV destroys, the less able the immune system is to fight other infections.

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Having AIDS means that the virus has weakened the immune system to the point where the body has a difficult time fighting infections. To be diagnosed as having AIDS, a person must be infected with HIV, have a low white blood cell count, and have one or more of a set list of other infections or diseases. A person can have HIV without being diagnosed as having AIDS. AIDS is the third phase in the progression of HIV infection. The first two phases are called HIV positive, asymptomatic and HIV positive, symptomatic.

HIV Test or AIDS Test

These terms refer to blood and saliva tests that are used to determine whether a person is infected with HIV. A positive test may indicate that a person is infected with HIV, but test results should always be confirmed by a second test with the most sophisticated HIV blood test available.

Facts to Know

Is there a test for HIV?

There are tests to determine if a person has been infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. If you or someone else wants to be tested for HIV infection, there are a variety of ways to be tested. Individuals can contact their physician or consult their workplace health service. There are also community health providers that offer HIV testing. Some testing services are confidential but not anonymous. Other testing sites provide anonymous and confidential testing. For information on local test sites, check with your local AIDS service organizations, public health department, or go to the National HIV and STD Testing Resources site for information on local organizations that offer testing.

Is there a cure for HIV infection?

Not yet. However, there are ever-improving treatments for HIV that allow people to live longer, healthier lives. Some people believe that these treatments are a cure for HIV. They are not. People living with HIV infection, or people who are unsure of their HIV status, should continue to take precautions to avoid spreading HIV, get tested for HIV, and seek care if HIV positive.

Is there a vaccine for HIV?

Not yet. Scientists are working to develop a vaccine that can prevent HIV infection. The development of a safe and effective vaccine remains our best hope for ending the HIV epidemic worldwide.

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