Officials of Texas Tech University recognize the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) as a serious public health threat and are committed to encourage, inform, and educate faculty, staff, and the student body in order to prevent the spread of HIV infection on the University campus, to provide a safe educational and working environment, and to limit the spread elsewhere through the educational process. It is important that the University community understand and be prepared to deal with this serious problem. Every effort needs to be made to ensure the rights and well-being of the individual, but it is equally important to safeguard the community as a whole. This policy has been developed to provide a fair and equitable method of responding to the occurrence of HIV and AIDS in the University community.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a breakdown of the body's immune defense system. The immune system defends the body against disease, but when it is defective, the body is vulnerable to infections and illnesses. Any of these infections are uncommon or mild in a healthy person, but can be life threatening to someone with impaired immunity. The agent that causes AIDS is a virus called Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
1. Education Counseling and Assistance. The primary response to HIV infection on campus must be education. It is appropriate for faculty and staff to incorporate information about HIV infection into their academic classes and/or employee training. Texas State Senate Bill 959 mandates that several programs specifically are required to provide HIV and AIDS education in the curriculum. Material is available through pamphlets, student handbooks, faculty handbooks, and personnel policy. The University, through the Student Health Center, will provide advice, educational programs, HIV antibody testing, counseling, and referrals to any student or University employee desiring direction or assistance in dealing with an AIDS-related question or problem. Consistent with this concern for employees with life-threatening illnesses, Texas Tech University offers the following range of resources:
a. Employee assistance counseling through the Employee Assistance Program.
b. Benefit consultation to assist employees in effectively managing health, leave, and other benefits through the Benefits Section of the Personnel Office.
2. Disabilities. Persons with HIV or AIDS are considered as having disabilities. In making decisions, University officers must guarantee the legal rights of HIV infected individuals. Existing support services for people with disabilities can be appropriately and effectively utilized by students or employees disabled by HIV infection.
3. Admissions and Employee Hiring. Consideration of the existence of HIV infection will not be part of the admissions decision for prospective students or of the hiring decisions for prospective employees.
4. Attendance and Access to Facilities. Individuals who are infected with HIV will be allowed to attend class or to perform their usual duties in an unrestricted manner as long as they are physically and mentally able to do so. There is no justification, medical or otherwise, for restricting the access of individuals with HIV infection to any public areas, including the student center, theatres, restaurants, snack bars, gyms, swimming pools, saunas, or recreational facilities.
5. Residential Housing. There is no justification for excluding individuals infected with HIV from residential housing.
6. Medical Care. It is appropriate to encourage students with the HIV infection to inform campus health care providers so that the proper medical care, support, counsel, and education can be provided. This, like any other medical information, will be handled in a strictly confidential manner in accordance with procedures and requirements in effect at the Student Health Center.
7. Institutional Responses. Institutional responses to the media will be handled through the Office of News and Publications.
D.Student and Employee Rights
The University recognizes that students or employees who have, or who may be perceived as having HIV infection or AIDS, may wish to continue in their normal academic and/or work activities as long as their physical condition allows them to do so. The University will comply with federal and State laws, regulations, and policies that protect the confidentiality of medical and educational records and with requirements for the reporting of certain test results or medical conditions to appropriate health authorities. Students and employees have the following legal rights:
1. Pursuant to state law, neither the University nor any student or employee shall disclose to anyone the identity of a person with HIV infection or AIDS without prior written consent of the patient, except when state law requires the initial diagnosis of the disease to be reported to appropriate health authorities or as allowed by state law.
2. Persons who have HIV infection or AIDS virus should be urged to share that information on a confidential basis with the Student Health Center (students) or local health agencies (employees) so that appropriate health and educational needs may be met.
E.HIV Antibody Testing
Mandatory Testing. Texas Tech University officials will not require mandatory testing of either employees or students for evidence of HIV infection. Employees, applicants, and students will not be asked whether or not they have HIV infection or AIDS. Employees, applicants, and students who identify themselves to any University official as having HIV infection or AIDS should be encouraged to inform the Student Health Center or other health care providers in order to receive proper medical advice and counsel.
Voluntary Testing. Voluntary, anonymous, and confidential testing for the HIV antibody is available at the Student Health Center. Testing service includes both pre- and post-test counseling.
Release of Information. No specific or detailed information about a student's health concern or diagnosis may be provided to faculty, administrators, or parents without the express written consent of the patient in each case. This position with respect to the health record is supported by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 and state statutes regarding the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases in minors. Furthermore, no person, group, agency, insurer, employer, or institution will be provided medical information of any kind without the prior written consent of the patient.
All members of the Texas Tech University campus will adopt safety guidelines as proposed by the United States Public Health Service for the handling of blood, body fluids, and used needles and equipment of all kinds, not just for those known to have HIV or AIDS infection. These "universal precautions" are necessary. The same procedures should thus be followed for the handling of blood and body fluids used in teaching and research laboratories. Educational programs and safety guidelines regarding the implementation of universal precautions will be provided.
As a result of the fear, anxiety, and anger that many people feel in reaction to HIV infection or AIDS, some students or employees who are either known to be or suspected of being infected with HIV may be subjected to emotional abuse, physical abuse, or both. Texas Tech University condemns all such occurrences as intolerable and will respond to them in accordance with Texas Tech University policies.
Persons who have a reasonable basis for believing or who know they are infected with HIV or AIDS are expected to seek expert advice about their health circumstances and are obligated ethically and legally to conduct themselves responsibly for the protection of other members of the community.
I.HIV-AIDS Issues Awareness Committee
The HIV-AIDS Issues Awareness Committee is committed to compiling and disseminating information concerning HIV infection, AIDS, and related conditions. This committee functions through the Dean of Students Office and serves as an excellent resource for materials such as videos, pamphlets, and speakers.
Upon request, an educational pamphlet on AIDS developed by the Texas Department of Health is available through the Student Health Center.
(Attachment A, OP 70.24 )
Page Administrator: Gale Richardson
LAST UPDATE: 8-1-98