See also the Information and advice page

HIV/AIDS Code of Practice

In this Code of Practice:

Policy statement

The University regards Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and other medical conditions caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection in the same way as any serious illness. However, it recognises that the danger of the spread of HIV/AIDS and the issues that this raises are matters of unusually intense public debate and concern.

The University’s regulations apply to all staff and students, with no discrimination against those with AIDS or other health conditions caused by HIV infection.

What is HIV and AIDS?

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that people can become infected with and that they can then pass on to other people. When someone becomes infected with HIV (often called ‘becoming HIV positive’) it begins to attack their immune system which is the body's defence against illness. This process is not visible and can go on undetected.

Some people infected with HIV remain healthy for years without developing AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). They may not know they are infected.

When a person is infected with HIV it is possible as time goes by that more sickness absence may be required but between bouts of illness, they may be fit enough to work. A person is recognised as having developed AIDS when the breakdown of the body's defences leads to serious infections and certain cancers.

How can HIV be passed on?

HIV can only be passed on in the following ways:

  • Unprotected sexual intercourse (vaginal, oral or anal) without using a condom
  • Sharing contaminated needles and syringes
  • From an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding
  • From contaminated blood or blood products

HIV cannot be passed on by normal daily contact at home or work. For example by:

  • Shaking hands
  • Kissing
  • Touching or hugging
  • Sharing cups, cutlery, crockery, towels or toilets.

HIV is not spread by sneezing or coughing or from tears or sweat.

IN SUMMARY A PERSON CANNOT BECOME INFECTED BY A PERSON WITH HIV FROM NORMAL DAILY CONTACT.

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Confidentiality

Staff and students of the University who have taken an HIV antibody test, or who are HIV antibody positive, or who have AIDS, are not required to disclose this information. However, whether or not such information is disclosed, people who are HIV positive should recognise their obligation to avoid any possible risk of their infecting others.

The University confirms that any information concerning the HIV status of any employee or student of the University must be treated as strictly confidential, and it must not be divulged to any third party without the express, written agreement of the individual concerned.

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Terms and conditions for staff and regulations for students

The University does not require prospective and existing staff or students to submit to tests for HIV.

Decisions on suitability for employment will be taken on grounds of fitness to undertake the duties of the post. Being HIV positive should not be relevant to decisions on employment or student selection.

Normal conditions of service (relating to sick leave, access to training and consideration for promotion, etc) will apply to all employees without discrimination.

Similarly, University regulations pertaining to students will apply without discrimination.

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Pensions - Ill Health retirement

No special stipulations have been introduced in respect of HIV or AIDS by the Trustees of pension schemes operated by the University.

The eligibility criteria for ill health early retirement apply for staff with HIV or AIDS exactly as they do to other staff.

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Training, education and provision of support services

The University believes that education and the provision of information to all staff and students constitute the most effective way of combating the spread of AIDS, and of preventing irrational reactions against those infected with HIV, or who have developed AIDS.

The University supports the Occupational Health Unit, the Guild of Students, the University Student Health Centres and other welfare agencies on campus in the promotion and dissemination of information. These and other related outside agencies are listed in Information and advice section.

Appropriate support and advice will be provided for employees and students who are working or living in situations where they may come into contact with blood (eg First Aiders).

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Travel and health protection abroad

HIV and AIDS infection occur in all parts of the world, although much attention has been focused on certain areas with known high prevalence.

Where Colleges require staff or students to travel abroad, they should seek information on medical provision and relevant foreign entry health requirements. For example in certain countries an HIV antibody test may be mandatory.

Students should be informed if their course or research normally requires visits to such countries. Where an individual does not wish to be tested, Colleges should attempt to make alternative arrangements, rather than penalise the student. The country’s health requirements may not be the same for short trips (say of under one month) as for more extended study visits.

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Health and Safety

The HIV is a fragile virus which exists for a very short time outside the human body. As a consequence standard hygiene precautions are adequate to prevent infection. The University’s First Aiders are trained in these precautions, of which a key measure is the use of protective gloves. First Aiders are instructed to always wear gloves when applying first aid. In order to contain spilled blood, each University building is provided with a body fluid spill kit (normally kept in the entrance lobby).

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Working relationships

The University will take all possible steps to ensure that fears or concerns amongst staff about working with, or providing services to, individuals who are HIV positive, or who have AIDS or a related condition are allayed through provision of advice and accurate information.

The University would not normally regard fears or beliefs about the HIV status of a third party as justifying requests for changes in working or living arrangements. However, where a person expresses exceptionally strong fears, the University is prepared to consider changes in that person's working and/or living arrangements.

Any grievances relating to HIV infection or AIDS or will be dealt with through the University’s normal grievance procedures.

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