Rescinded [2010-03-24] - Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

The HIV and AIDS Policy is intended to provide guidance and facilitate understanding of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in the workplace.
Date modified: 1999-12-01

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This document is no longer in effect. It has been archived online and is kept purely for historical purposes. For further information refer to the People Management Policy Review Project.

Policy objective

To provide guidance and facilitate understanding of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in the workplace.

Policy statement

In most work environments in the Public Service, employees with HIV infection or AIDS do not pose a health risk to others. As with other serious illnesses and disabilities, these employees are encouraged to remain productive as long as they are able. They must not be subject to discriminatory practices.

Employees of the Public Service are not required to undergo mandatory tests for HIV infection.

Application

The policy applies to all departments and other portions of the Public Service listed in Part I of Schedule I of the Public Service Staff Relations Act.

Policy requirements

Departments must ensure that

  • the rights and benefits of employees with HIV infection or AIDS are respected;
  • the occupational safety and health of employees with a potential risk of exposure to HIV is protected;
  • employees are informed of existing information, education, counselling and evaluation services in the Public Service with respect to HIV infection and AIDS.

Monitoring

Treasury Board Secretariat will monitor departmental performance by:

  • reviewing the overall departmental application of the HIV and AIDS policy, the Occupational Safety and Health policy and the Employee Assistance Program policy;
  • reviewing audit and evaluation reports, both internal and external, on the application of this policy.

References

Policies, directives and standards

Access to Information policy, Treasury Board.

Privacy and Data Protection policy, Treasury Board.

Policy Guide: Access to Information Act and Privacy Act, Treasury Board Secretariat, 1992.

Harassment in the Workplace policy, Treasury Board.

Disability Insurance Plan, Treasury Board.

Long–term Disability Insurance, Treasury Board.

Telework policy, Treasury Board.

Security policy and standards, Treasury Board.

Occupational Safety and Health policy, Treasury Board.

Employee Assistance Program Policy, Treasury Board.

Dangerous Substances directive, Treasury Board.

Occupational Health Evaluation standard, Treasury Board.

Personal Protective Equipment and Clothing Directive, Treasury Board.

Procedures for Accident Investigation and Reporting, Treasury Board.

Legislation

Canada Labour Code, Part II

Canadian Human Rights Act

Constitution Act, 1982 (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms)

Government Employees Compensation Act

Privacy Act

Public Service Employment Act

Public Service Staff Relations Act

Other

AIDS and the Privacy Act, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, 1989

The Human Rights Commission policy on AIDS, May 1988

"Bloodborne Pathogens in Health – Care Settings: Risk for Transmission", Canada Communicable Disease Report, Volume 18–24, Laboratory Centre for Disease Control, Ottawa, December 1992

"Update: Universal Precautions for Prevention of Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Hepatitis B Virus, and Other Bloodborne Pathogens in Health – Care Settings", Canada Diseases Weekly Report, Volume 14–27, Federal Centre for AIDS and Laboratory Centre for Disease Control, Ottawa, July 1988

"Recommendations for Prevention of HIV Transmission in Health – Care Settings", Canada Diseases Weekly Report, Volume 13S3, Federal Centre for AIDS and Laboratory Centre for Disease Control, Ottawa, November 1987

AIDS in the Workplace – Risky Business, film by Health Canada, 1988

AIDS – A Summary of Occupational Health Concerns, 2nd edition, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, Hamilton

Counselling Guidelines for Human Immunodeficiency Virus Serologic Testing, Canadian Medical Association, March 1993

Act Now: Managing HIV and AIDS in the Canadian Workplace, Canadian AIDS Society, 1991

Enquiries

Enquiries about this policy should be directed to the responsible officers in departmental headquarters, who, in turn, may seek interpretation from:

For specific interpretations or direct questions on:

Safety and health issues:

Safety, Health, Employee Benefits and Services Group
Human Resources Management Division
Human Resources Branch
Treasury Board Secretariat

Staff relations issues:

Collective Bargaining Section
Labour Relations Division
Human Resources Branch
Treasury Board Secretariat

For information and advice on HIV infection and AIDS, consult:

Occupational and Environmental Health Services Directorate
Medical Services Branch
Health Canada
National AIDS Secretariat
Health Canada
National AIDS Clearinghouse
Canadian Public Health Association

Appendix A – Definitions

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (syndrome d'immuno-déficience acquise (SIDA)) - the terminal stage of a viral infection that affects the immune system, the body's natural resistance to disease. As a result, persons with AIDS are susceptible to life–threatening illnesses including rare forms of pneumonia, skin cancer and brain deterioration.

Casual contact (contact occasionnel) - activities that bring a person into contact with another person or a common object (such as shaking hands; hugging; being near someone who is coughing, sneezing or crying; touching common objects such as money, paper, doorknobs, telephones, or toilet seats; swimming in a public pool).

Employees with a potential risk (employés exposés au virus) - employees whose work brings them in contact with human blood or other body fluids. This includes healthcare workers such as nurses, doctors, dentists and laboratory workers; emergency and rescue personnel such as ambulance attendants, firefighters and first–aid attendants; and law enforcement personnel such as police officers and institutional guards. Consult references in this policy for other occupational groups.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) (virus d'immuno-déficience humaine (VIH)) - the virus that leads to AIDS. Many people infected with HIV have few or no symptoms of illness.

Appendix B – Guidelines

Introduction

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a fragile virus that cannot be spread by casual contact or by usual workplace activities. Infection with HIV is a chronic progressive disease transmitted by: unprotected sexual activity with a person infected with HIV; receiving HIV–contaminated blood or other body fluids into the body, for example, by sharing needles and syringes contaminated with blood from a person infected with HIV; and, in the case of the unborn or newborn baby, a mother infected with HIV. No effective treatment for HIV infection or AIDS is available. However, new treatments for AIDS-related illnesses are enabling persons with AIDS to live longer.

Precautions for employees with a potential risk of exposure

As indicated in the policy, departments must ensure that the safety and health of employees who have a potential risk of exposure to a causative agent are protected.

  1. Where a potential risk of exposure to HIV as well as to other bloodborne infectious agents exists, departments must establish and enforce infection control procedures recommended by Health Canada. Departments must also provide appropriate protective clothing and equipment in accordance with the Treasury Board Personal Protective Equipment and Clothing directive and the Canada Labour Code, Part II.
  2. Workplace exposure to blood or other body fluids that are potentially contaminated with HIV shall be reported in accordance with Treasury Board Procedures for Accident Investigation and Reporting.
  3. In addition, ongoing education and training in infection control must be provided for these potential risk employees in accordance with the Treasury Board Occupational Safety and Health policy and the Canada Labour Code, Part II.

Testing

The Public Service does not require mandatory HIV testing as a condition of employment.

The Occupational Health and Safety Agency of Health Canada may provide voluntary HIV screening tests for employees who assume responsibilities on behalf of the government in foreign countries. Proof of HIV sero–negativity is required for entry into some countries.

The tests are also available to employees occupying potential risk positions or returning from countries where the virus is prevalent, if a risk of exposure has been identified.

The principles of informed consent, pre–test and post–test counselling, and confidentiality of results are followed throughout the testing process.

Employee rights and benefits

As indicated in this policy, departments must ensure that the rights and benefits of employees with HIV infection or AIDS are respected, as well as those of co–workers and clients. Departments must ensure that:

  1. any form of discrimination of an employee who has or is presumed to have HIV infection or AIDS is prohibited;
  2. any harassment of an employee with HIV infection or AIDS is handled in accordance with the procedure outlined in the policy on Harassment in the Workplace.
  3. records containing personal information HIV or AID are designated as PROTECTED and handled in accordance with the provisions of the Privacy Act and the confidentiality requirements outlined in the Occupational Safety and Health policy, Employee Assistance Program policy, and Security policy. Reference may also be made to the Treasury Board Policy Guide: Access to Information Act and Policy Act with respect to access, collection, disclosure and accuracy of personal information;

    However, employees who wish to apply for disability benefits under the Disability Insurance Plan of the Public Service and the long–term disability insurance portion of the Public Service Management Insurance Plan will be required to provide complete medical information to the appropriate insurance company.

    Similarly, employees who wish to apply for compensation under the Government Employees Compensation Act will be required to provide complete medical information to the appropriate provincial Workers' Compensation authority.
  4. work–related benefits such as sick leave allowances, medical and disability entitlements and return–to–work privileges continue to be provided in accordance with existing Public Service policies and/or collective agreements;
  5. as is the case with other health conditions, reasonable employment accommodation is made for employees with HIV or AIDS. Where possible and in accordance with the Public Service Employment Act, a suitable alternative position is offered when the employee can no longer meet the requirements of his or her own position. The Occupational Health and Safety Agency, Health Canada, may assist in determining suitable employment;
  6. employees with HIV or AIDS are made aware of the confidential counselling, information and referral services that are available, on a voluntary basis, through the occupational health services provided by Health Canada and through departmental employee assistance programs.

Education and information

As indicated in the policy, it is a departmental responsibility to inform employees of existing workplace services related to HIV and AIDS. Some available services are:

  1. for those employees posted or travelling abroad on government business, departments should provide up–to-date reliable information on prevention measures either through departmental resources or the Occupational Health and Safety Agency of Health Canada;
  2. managers and other employees concerned about dealing with employees with HIV or AIDS should consult with the Occupational Health and Safety Agency, their departmental employee assistance program practitioner or, in the case of specific workplace issues, their safety and health committee;
  3. as a means of alleviating workplace concerns and preventing further spread of HIV generally, departments may arrange for employee education sessions through the Occupational Health and Safety Agency of Health Canada.
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