UW-La Crosse

Policy Statement on AIDs

The University will respond to the presence of AIDS in the University community with education, awareness, and compassion. Since there is not a cure for AIDS, the University will address its resources and efforts to tasks that include:

  • Educating the University community about AIDS and related issues;

  • Providing information on transmission and risk reduction to prevent further spread of the disease;

  • Insuring and facilitating access to proper medical, administrative, counseling and other assistance;

  • Lessening the concerns and undeserved reactions associated with the disease, those who have it, and those who may be at risk;

  • Offering counseling and testing and HIV antibody testing to students.

Consistent with University policy regarding student and staff who are disabled, the University will not discriminate against a student or staff member who has AIDS. The University will seek to make accommodations for such persons in a manner consistent with accommodations made for other medical conditions, illnesses and disabilities. Further, the University will not undertake a program of routine testing either students or staff for AIDS, nor will questions about the existence of AIDS be included in applications for either admission or employment.

The guidelines developed by the committee are part of the efforts to provide the University community with information about AIDS. The committee has utilized knowledgeable sources to convey the necessary guidelines with questions and answers regarding these policy issues. These responses are based on recommendations issued by the United States Public Health Service and the American College Health Association. The principal philosophy in responding to these issues is that each situation or concern must be addressed individually on a case-by-case basis as determined by the medical facts involved. The answers do not provide detailed rules; rather, they present a framework from which can be developed specific, well-reasoned responses to individual cases. As those recommendations may be modified or expanded, the University will review and appropriately revise these guidelines. Within that context the questions and answers that follow outline the University's response.


General Concerns

Question: Can AIDS be spread by ordinary interpersonal contact?
Response: There is no evidence that AIDS is spread by ordinary interpersonal contact. The causative virus is quite fragile and will not survive on environmental surfaces, in the atmosphere, on personal articles, or on eating utensils.

Question: How is AIDS transmitted?
Response: The transmission of AIDS from one person to another is spread by sexual contact involving the exchange of body fluids; the sharing of contaminated needles and syringes, especially by users of intravenous drugs; and the transfusion of blood or blood products contaminated by the virus; and through pregnancy from mother to unborn child.

Question: How can we lessen the chances of getting AIDS?
Response: To help prevent getting the AIDS virus: (1) Avoid sexual intercourse and intimate sex; (2) practice sexual fidelity in marriage or in a long-term relationship with an uninfected partner; (3) use condoms during all sexual contact; (4) avoid oral contact with a partner's semen, blood, vaginal secretions, or body waste; (5) avoid anonymous, high risk, and multiple sex partners; and (6) avoid sharing IV drug needles and syringes, preferably by not using IV drugs except by a physician's order. A condom should be used when having sex with anyone other than a faithful and uninfected partner. Even then, there is still some risk since the condom is not 100% effective. A person should discuss personal health responsibilities with a sexual partner.

Question: What steps should be followed by students and staff who may come in contact with blood, needles, and body fluids?
Response: The appropriate handling of human blood and potentially infectious body fluids from any source must be a concern to all personnel. In order to reduce the risk, educational programming must be conducted and the safety guidelines included in Attachment A must be followed.

Question: Should an individual who carries the AIDS virus be removed from the mainstream of campus life?
Response: There is no current evidence that people who are infected spread the infection by casual, ordinary contact. Accordingly, there is no reason to exclude AIDS victims or carriers from campus academic, social, or community activities. Shared classrooms, work areas, study areas, libraries, theaters, etc. do not present problems.


Student Concerns

Question: If a student suspects that he or she has AIDS, what will the University do?
Response: The first response to an individual who has AIDS must be compassion. If the student is uncertain of his or her medical condition and seeks help, the University encourages the student to get a detailed medical evaluation. The University, through the Student Health Service, can refer the student to a physician who is familiar with AIDS for a confidential medical evaluation, including counseling before and after diagnosis, and further medical follow-up if appropriate. As with other medical conditions and disabilities, the University will make accommodations in a manner consistent with those made for other disabilities.

Question: How will accommodations for students be made?
Response: Accommodations will be made based on the medical facts of each case in consultation with the Coordinator of Students with Special Needs, the Director of the Student Health Center, and the chair or director of department or unit in which the accommodation is to occur. Since casual contact does not result in AIDS, consultation will only occur with those directly involved in making a medically necessary accommodation.

Question: How will the University respond to students who wish to change class schedules because a person in their class has AIDS?
Response: This concern is not supported by any medical evidence. Casual contact does not result in AIDS. As long as class attendance is permitted by the student's physician, he or she can attend class, without any need or reason for the student or classmates to make any changes in their schedules. The University's first response to any concern of this nature will be to provide counseling to those involved.

Question: What will be the University's response to a student who has AIDS and as a consequence has difficulty completing the work of a course?
Response: The University's existing policies regarding students who suffer from a medical problem that prevents them from completing their class work would apply to a student with AIDS. In keeping with the general principles reiterated throughout these guidelines, faculty members should act compassionately in response to the request of a student to postpone an examination or take an incomplete in a course.

Question: How will the University respond if a student living in a residence hall is diagnosed as having AIDS?
Response: Decisions in all situations involving a student who has a health problem are made on a case-by-case determination, based on the medical facts of each case and with concern for confidentiality and the best interests of all parties involved. Similarly, there is no medical necessity to advise others living in residence halls of the presence in the hall of other students who have AIDS.

Question: What if a student in a residence hall suspects that a roommate or other resident has AIDS?
Response: The University will respond with appropriate counseling in the same manner as with other issues or concerns that may arise among residence hall students. If, after counseling, other conflicts still exist that cannot be resolved constructively by the parties involved, the University will consider a room reassignment in accordance with established residence hall policies. Again, it should be stressed that casual contact, such as normally occurs with a roommate, does not transmit AIDS.

Question: What are the provisions of the University's student health insurance program that relate to AIDS?
Response: There is no provision in the University's student health insurance policy specifically regarding AIDS; it is treated like any other sickness first diagnosed and commencing after the effective date of the policy.

Question: How will the University respond to complaints of discrimination or harassment against students with AIDS, or who simply are perceived to be in high-risk groups?
Response: The University will respond to any conflict or harassment first by using informal means to counsel and educate the individuals involved. The Student Grievance procedure (Appendix J of the Student Handbook) outlines the procedure to be followed in student discrimination cases. The initial process is an informal one. Any discrimination against students because of their disability or affectional or associational preferences is prohibited by University policy.

Question: Will a student employee who has AIDS be permitted to continue working?
Response: The guidelines outlined below under "Personnel Concerns" will also apply to student employees.

Employee Concerns

Question: How will the University respond if a faculty, academic staff, classified or student employee has or is suspected of having AIDS?
Response: The first response to an individual who has AIDS must be compassion. The University will seek to accommodate a staff member's medical condition to permit the individual to remain actively at work as long as possible. If an employee is unable to carry out assigned duties he or she can be placed on a disability leave using sick leave and leave without pay as applicable. Again, it must be stressed that casual contact, such as occurs in an office or similar setting, does not cause AIDS.

Question: How will the University respond to concerns by a faculty, academic staff, classified or student employee that his or her co-worker or supervisor has AIDS?
Response: The University would hope that these concerns would be resolved by counseling and greater education about AIDS. Unless medically justified, the University will not require transfers or changes in working conditions because an employee has AIDS or because of concerns about a co-worker having AIDS.

Question: What will happen if an administrator or supervisor knows or thinks a staff member has AIDS and needs medical attention and/or counseling?
Response: The University will seek to accommodate the employee's medical condition to permit the individual to remain actively at work as long as possible. Decisions in all situations will be made on a case-by-case determination, based on the medical facts of each, and with concern for the best interests of all involved. The University will offer counseling and medical services or referrals to other counseling centers or agencies. The University also can provide counseling to co- workers to better understand AIDS.

Question: What are the provisions of employee health and life insurance policies, including disability and survivorship provisions?
Response: There is no provision in any of the University's current employee insurance policies specifically regarding AIDS; it is treated as any other chronic illness.

Life insurance benefits would be paid to the named beneficiary and disability insurance would be paid if eligible. It should be noted that the life insurance program provides that an employee may name any individual as beneficiary.

Question: Are medical and employment records confidential?
Response: Medical records are confidential and may be released only with the patient's consent. Medical information provided by an employee may be placed in the employee's personnel records, for example, for purposes of determining disability benefits. Personnel who handle records are instructed on the confidentiality issue. It is a violation of University policy for employees to improperly release information from personnel files. The University will not give out confidential medical or other information about students or employees except where required by law or when authorized to do so by a student or employee.

Question: How will the University handle complaints of discrimination against staff members with AIDS?
Response: Informal grievance procedures listed in Appendix C of the Affirmative Action Plan address the process to be followed in the event of discrimination against faculty, academic staff and classified staff.


General Principles Regarding Safe Handling of Blood and Body Fluids: Because many infected persons are unaware of this status, personnel should not rely on students or employees with AIDS to identify themselves. The following safety must be observed in all cases.

  1. Personnel that are authorized and trained per the written Bloodborne Pathogens Program should be the only individuals who use, work with or perform other activities with human blood of other potentially infectious materials.

  2. If persons have accidents involving bleeding, follow the procedures referenced in Appendix C of the Bloodborne Pathogens Program. Contact the Environmental Health and Safety Office for information related to the UW-L Bloodborne Pathogens Program.

  3. Health Center personnel and those using needles in laboratories should use disposable, one-use needles whenever the skin or mucous membranes of patients will be punctured. Needles must be disposed per procedures in the written Bloodborne Pathogens Program.

  4. Laboratory courses, that require the use of human blood, shall use disposable equipment. No lancets or other blood-letting devices should be reused or shared.

  5. For additional information related to HIV/AIDS, contact the La Crosse County Health Department (785-9872), Wisconsin AidsLine (1-800-334-2437), the UW-L Health Center (785-8558), or the UW-L Environmental Health and Safety Office (785-6800).