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.
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.
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.
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.]