Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

Introduction

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a life-threatening viral disease that causes the body's immune system to cease functioning altogether or to function at a lowered level of efficiency. Individuals who contract the disease are vulnerable to selected illnesses that would not normally be a threat to them. AIDS is caused by infection with a virus known as Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV. Many infected persons may remain in reasonably good health, with an absence of signs or symptoms, while others develop serious health problems accompanied by full-blown symptoms and a high degree of mortality.

Background

HIV transmission is caused by sexual contact, hypodermic needle sharing, or less commonly, through blood transfusions. The virus may also be transmitted from infected mothers to infants before, during or shortly after birth. Individuals with high risk of infection are sexually active, gay and bisexual males, intravenous drug abusers, hemophiliacs and the sexual partners (homosexual and heterosexual) of these high risk persons.

Transmission does not occur through families (unless by sexual relations), occupational, casual or social settings. Nor does there appear to be evidence that transmission occurs through airborne or foodborne modes. Similarly, there is at present no indication that the virus is transmitted through objects handled by persons infected with HIV or by contaminated environmental surfaces.

Supporting evidence, as ascertained by the Centers for Disease Control and Tennessee Department of Public Health, shows no spread of the virus within families after several years of daily intimate contact with a virus-positive family member, unless a sexual partner. Of the more than 40,000 AIDS patients, studies indicate that most carried the virus three to four years prior to their diagnosis and did not transmit the virus to their family, friends, co-workers, schoolmates, health care workers, etc., except as noted above. Similarly, the only transmission between persons testing HIV positive and their long-time casual or close friends, family and other contacts, has been via those same methods.

Guidelines

The following policy guidelines are herewith promulgated based on the best information about the disease currently available from the Atlanta Center for Disease Control, the Tennessee Department of Public Health, and the American College Health Association.

  1. Routine screening for HIV virus infection for University admission or employment is not warranted.
  2. Members of high-risk groups shall not be excluded from admission to the University or from University housing or other services normally available to the academic community.
  3. HIV infected students and/or employees shall be allowed to attend classes and other University activities and work in an unrestricted setting. Periodic medical re-evaluation, as determined by the University physician and the student/employees private physician, may be required.
  4. HIV infected students shall not be excluded as residents in University housing or from other services normally available to them.
  5. AIDS is a reportable disease in the State of Tennessee. Health Services personnel will strictly observe public health reporting requirements for persons with AIDS or AIDS related conditions.
  6. Students with AIDS, AIDS Related Complex, or a positive HIV antibody test shall be given assistance, consistent with other illnesses, in obtaining appropriate medical care, education and accommodations by University Health Services.
  7. Except for legally required reporting, as described in Section 5, the confidentiality of each known or suspected case of AIDS infection should be carefully maintained.
  8. If an employee or student has concerns about the presence of a person with the HIV virus, that individual should consult with the University physician or other personnel in the University Health Services.
  9. Academic departments offering classes/laboratory experiments involving blood, blood products and body fluids shall take necessary steps to ensure the safety of participating individuals.
  10. Students participating in field work experiences in community health care settings should be provided assurance by the training facility that it is in compliance with Tennessee Public Health guidelines for the handling of blood, blood products and bodily fluids.
  11. University students, faculty and staff shall be made aware of the risks associated with sexual activity and I.V. drug abuse through the distribution of educational pamphlets and other materials and programs by University Health Services.

Review and changes in these policy guidelines may be made as new information and supporting evidence emerge from the Department of Public Health and/or the Atlanta Center for Disease Control.

[Approved by the Administrative Council, Fall, 1987.]

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