The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that more than a million people in the United States are infected with HIV. While 243,423 people have died from AIDS in this country as of June 1994, many more are living with both diagnosed and undiagnosed infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. There is an impact on business in terms of both direct costs (increased costs in medical benefits, short-term and long-term disability coverage, and increased Medicaid costs), as well as indirect costs (lost productivity, lost talent, and increased recruitment and training expenses).
Individuals living with HIV/AIDS are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1992 and consequently it is illegal for businesses with 15 or more employees to discriminate against applicants or workers because they are infected with HIV or suffering from AIDS. Companies covered by ADA are expected to make reasonable accommodations in order to permit affected employees to continue working. These accommodations include extended leave policies, reassignment to available positions within the company, and flexible work schedules.
There are three organizations dedicated to assisting large and small businesses in formulating policy, providing education and planning and responding to the immediate concerns of companies that suddenly find themselves face to face with this situation.
The American Red Cross
The American Red Cross will provide facilitators/instructors or train staff members of an individual company to provide a company training program on HIV/AIDS. This consists of a minimum one-hour presentation on the facts of HIV/AIDS infection and transmission. In addition, the Red Cross offers expanded presentations on the rights and responsibilities of businesses, the facts of disclosure, and a particularly useful training program for managers and supervisors. The Red Cross provides assistance to companies in policy planning.
The National Headquarters of the American Red Cross advises that interested individuals should first contact the local chapter of the American Red Cross to obtain advice and plan a program suited to the needs of the specific organization. If there is no local branch of the ARC, the AIDS Education staff at the National Headquarters of the American Red Cross will provide assistance. Address your concerns to:
American Red Cross National Headquarters
AIDS Education Division
8111 Gatehouse Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
The CDC's National AIDS Clearing House
The CDC's National AIDS Clearing House is a referral service established under the National AIDS Information and Education Program. This service has divisions for information, education, and experimental drug programs as well as a new division called Business Response to AIDS Resource Service. This division will provide information and local non-health care referrals to individuals in the business community anywhere in the nation. Their referrals regarding business policy and programs, training programs, legal questions, and insurance issues are made on the local, state, and national levels. In addition, they will refer inquiries to the appropriate state HIV coordinator. Address your concerns to:
The CDC National AIDS Clearing House
PO. Box 6003
Rockville, MD 20849
The National Leadership Coalition on AIDS
The National Leadership Coalition on AIDS offers businesses technical assistance and guidance in establishing policies and programs tailored to the individual needs of companies ranging from IBM to small businesses. This organization is useful in determining the specific needs of the company seeking to assist its employees. They will send free literature to companies and individuals seeking to be proactive rather than reactive in the face of increasing HIV throughout the workplace. Its information agents offer direction to inquiries regarding people living with HIV/AIDS,and they are equipped to meet the immediate and long-term needs of any organization. The Coalition will also provide one free copy in response to a first request for any printed materials they publish on the topic of HIV/AIDS. For help and information, address your concerns to:
The National Leadership Coalition on AIDS
1730 M Street, NW, Suite 905
Washington, DC 20036