Significant Infectious Disease Policy
Purchase recognizes that the contemporary college campus is not a refuge or haven from the epidemic of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), present in the larger communities of which the College is a part. The College will do everything possible to prevent people from being infected, to limit the consequences of established infection for individuals, and to provide a compassionate response to all affected individuals.
II. The Policy: AIDS and HIV Infection
The College’s policies which derive from the currently available medical facts about HIV infection and AIDS, shall apply to all students, faculty, and staff or others using college facilities or services who have HIV infection. People with HIV infection may be healthy but have evidence of the infection because of the presence of an antibody of the virus in their blood; others have a condition meeting the criteria of the surveillance definition of AIDS itself, or one of the lesser symptomatic manifestations of infection (such as AIDS-related complex or progressive generalized lymphadenopathy).
This policy shall be reviewed on an annual basis by the college AIDS Task Force, which will make recommendations for changes and update in the policy to the college governance structure. In this review process and in recommended changes or updates, Purchase will use the best currently available medical information and statements, policies, and recommendations of the State University of New York Central Administration, the New York State Health Department, the American College Health Association, and the Centers for Disease Control of the United States Public Health Service.
III. Prohibiting Discrimination against Faculty, Staff, Students, or Others Using College Facilities and Services: AIDS and HIV Infection
A. Non-Discrimination Policy
Faculty, staff, students or others using college facilities or services who have HIV infection or who have been diagnosed as having AIDS shall be protected from discrimination, and shall be considered as handicapped persons with a life limiting disease, as defined by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In making decisions college officials shall guarantee the rights of these individuals. Existing support services for people with handicapping conditions can be appropriately and effectively utilized by students or employees disabled by HIV infections. College faculty, staff, or students, as part of their work or their educational program, shall not discriminate against people with HIV infection or AIDS diagnosed individuals, clients, or patients in the services offered, rendered or provided by the college.
- Faculty or staff members: Faculty or staff members who have HIV infection or who have been diagnosed as having AIDS shall be protected from discrimination in their employment.
- Students: Students who have HIV infection or who have been diagnosed as having AIDS shall be protected from discrimination in their educational program, housing accommodations, food service, and related student services or opportunities.
a. The existence of any form of HIV infection may not be considered in the initial admission decision for people applying to attend the institution.
b. Students who have HIV infection, whether they are symptomatic or not, should be allowed regular participation in their academic program of study in an unrestricted manner as long as they are physically and mentally able to meet the requirements of that participation.
c. Decisions on residential housing will be made on a case-by-case basis. The best currently available medical information does not indicate any risk to those sharing residence with HIV-infected individuals. However, in some circumstances there may be reasonable concern for the health of students with immune deficiencies (of any origin) when those students might be exposed to certain contagious diseases (e.g., measles or chicken pox) in a close living situation.
Individuals who have HIV infection or are diagnosed with AIDS and who feel they have been the subject of discrimination on that basis should contact the Affirmative Action Officer or the Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs for information about options concerning redress of the situation. Violations of this anti-discrimination policy will be handled through appropriate disciplinary processes for students and for faculty and staff.
C. Notification to the College: Significant Infectious Disease Committee
A faculty or staff member, or a student who has HIV infection or who has been diagnosed as having AIDS and who wishes to be covered under this policy or requests accommodations, should notify either the Director of Student Health Services, who shall convene the Significant Infectious Disease (SID) Committee. The SID Committee shall consider accommodations or restrictions only at the request of the individual. Members of the SID Committee are bound by the standards of confidentiality expressed in this policy. Individuals shall otherwise not be required to notify the College of their HIV status.
The SID Committee shall review and make recommendations regarding any reasonable accommodation or work place restrictions for a faculty or staff member who has HIV infection or who has been diagnosed as having AIDS. Similarly, the SID Committee shall review and make recommendations regarding any reasonable accommodations or restrictions on the educational programs or other college activities of a student who has HIV infection or who has been diagnosed with having AIDS. The College shall abide by the recommendations of the SID Committee, except that the President retains the right to modify or reject the Committee’s Recommendations.
D. HIV Testing
- College officials will not undertake programs of mandatory or “routine” testing of either student, faculty, or staff for HIV infection.
- The College Health Services should be familiar with local sources of HIV testing, and should be able to refer students, faculty, or staff requesting tests. Referrals will only be made to test sites which are confidential or anonymous; which provide both pre-test and post-test counseling on site. In addition, Health Services staff as appropriate should be trained to counsel and educate persons seeking testing, using standards for pre-test and post-test counseling developed by the Centers for Disease Control, United States Public Health Service.
E. Confidentiality and Records: AIDS and HIV Infection
People known or suspected to have HIV infection, whether or not they have symptoms of illness, have sometimes been victims of discrimination and physical and/or psychological abuse. The potential for discrimination and mistreatment of these individuals, and/or persons thought to be at risk of infection requires that confidential information concerning any aspect of HIV infection be handled with extraordinary care.
Guidelines concerning the handling of confidential information about people with HIV infection follow the general standards included in the American College Health Association’s “Recommendation Standards and Practices for a College Health program” fourth edition. In general, no specific or detailed information concerning HIV infection or AIDS diagnosis should be provided to faculty, administrators, or even parents, without the expressed written consent of the person in each case except as mandated by court order. This position with respect to student records is supported by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.
- Release of Information
No person, group, agency, insurer, employer, or institution may be provided any information related to the HIV status of a student, faculty, or staff member without the prior written consent of the individual, except as mandated by court order.
a. Given the possibility of unintended or accidental compromise of the confidentiality of information, health officers should carefully weigh the importance of including any specific information about the existence of known or suspected HIV infection in the ordinary medical record, except when circumstances of medical necessity mandate it. At a minimum, the inclusion of any information related to HIV infection in the medical record should be discussed with the patient prior to its conclusion.
b. Legal liability – Health officers and other institutional officers should remember that all confidential medical information is protected by statutes and that any authorized disclosure of it may create legal liability. The duty of physicians and or health care providers to protect the confidentiality of information is superseded by the necessity to protect others only in very specific life threatening circumstances.
c. “Need to know”– The number of people in the College who are aware of the existence and/or identity of students, faculty, or staff who have HIV infection should be kept to an absolute minimum of those who truly need to know, both to protect the confidentiality and privacy of the infected person and to avoid the generation of unnecessary fear and anxiety among others.
d. Public health reporting requirements – The Student Health Services must strictly observe public health reporting requirements to the local public health authorities.
e. Secondary lists or records – Neither health officers nor administrators should keep lists or logs identifying individuals tested for antibodies to HIV or known to be HIV infected. The potential for compromise of confidential information far exceeds any conceivable benefit of such listings.
F. Safety Precautions: AIDS and HIV Infection
Purchase shall implement the safety guidelines as developed by the United States Public Health Service for the handling of the blood and body fluids of all persons, not just those previously known to have HIV infection. These “universal” precautions are necessary because many people with HIV infection are not identified in advance. The same procedures should thus be followed for handling the blood and body fluids of any student, faculty, or staff member.
Surfaces contaminated by blood or body fluids can be successfully cleaned and disinfected with commercial disinfectant solution or with household bleach, freshly diluted in a 1:10 solution.
- Health Care Providers
a. Public Health Service procedures – In order to prevent the accidental transmission of HIV in health care settings, the College Health Services will implement current recommendations from the Public Health Services and will monitor compliance with these procedures. The College will provide educational programs about HIV infection control procedures to all Health Services personnel.
b. Equipment – The College Health Services will use disposable, one-use needles and other equipment whenever such equipment will puncture the skin or mucous membranes of patients. The same safety precautions must be used with all patients. If disposable equipment is not available, any needles or other implements that puncture skin or mucous membranes must be stream sterilized by autoclave before re-use, or safely discarded. Extreme caution should be exercised by all handling equipment, particularly in disposal of needles.
- Teaching Laboratories
Academic faculty and staff will adopt the United States Public Health Service safety precautions for the handling of blood and body fluids of all persons in teaching laboratories. Laboratory courses requiring exposure to blood, such as biology courses in which blood is obtained by finger prick for typing examination will use disposable equipment, and no lancets or other blood-letting devices will be re-used or shared. No student should be required to obtain or process the blood of others.
Needles and other disposable equipment or supplies which puncture the skin or which contact blood or body fluids shall be discarded into appropriately marked containers following the recommendations of the United States Public Health Service. Such containers must be properly disposed of according to appropriate laws of the State of New York.
G. Educational Programs: AIDS and HIV Infection
- General Educational Programs
Because there is as yet neither a vaccine to prevent HIV infection nor effective therapy for persons infected with HIV, the primary response of any college to the epidemic of HIV infection must be education. Accordingly, Purchase shall develop and maintain a comprehensive educational program that increases awareness and provides information and skills to prevent the further spread of the virus.
a. In the design of the format and content of the educational programs, it is important to recognize and address the rich diversity of people in the campus community and to provide opportunities for effective learning by people of any age, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
b. A comprehensive program should be presented for students, faculty, and staff. It should address not only undergraduates, but also graduate and professional students; not only residential students, but also commuters and non-traditional students. Such a comprehensive program should be designed to reach all students at least once during their college career, preferably during their first days on campus during the orientation program.
c. In order for the educational program to be effective, it must provide current information, use reliable up-to-date materials, and be both easily accessible and widely available. Direct, explicit, clear language should be used whenever possible, as appropriate for the audience.
- Specific Educational Programs
The college will provide general AIDS education, information about HIV transmission, and training in universal safety precautions to all employees who become exposed to blood and body fluids in the course of their employment.