News24

Worker: Hospital told boss my HIV status

2011-10-24 10:22

Johannesburg - A domestic worker has complained to the SA Human Rights Commission about hospital staff telling her employer she is HIV positive, The Times reported on Monday.

"You are dying and pregnant... I know... the lab told me you are sick," her boss reportedly yelled at her when she arrived at work after spending three days in the Steve Biko Academic Hospital, in Pretoria.

The 41-year-old woman was angry that a National Health Laboratory Services' technician had allegedly ignored her right to privacy and disclosed her HIV status to her employer without her consent.

"Now [my employer] has developed a horrible attitude towards me. She has stopped me from making her tea, she does not want me anywhere near her room and has made it clear that if I make her sick, and if it was up to her, she would fire me," the woman told the newspaper.

In response, the laboratory services' CEO Sagie Pillay responded that the technician denied disclosing the test results. Pillay said a full investigation would be launched to identify the culprit.

"This is a breach of the Employment Equity Act which prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee on the grounds of HIV," said Gauteng health department spokesperson Mishack Magakwe.

"It is totally unacceptable that she is treated differently because of her status, which the employer got illegally in the first place."

The domestic worker's employer told The Times she had phoned the laboratory because she was concerned about her employee and had "wanted to know how I could help her because she is always sick. She looks after me and I have to look after her".

Comments
  • rbphiri - 2011-10-24 10:37

    Sue Sue Sue!!! Sue them!

      Sganja - 2011-10-24 10:45

      Yes Yes Yes!!

      Cindy - 2011-10-24 11:53

      ok and you are the only person allowed to have an opinion. I qould not fire her is she happened to be HIV positive, I would just take some precautions, that is our right as employer. My domestic worker looks after my children, do not tell me I am not allowed to taek a few precautions to protect my children, but she will still be allowed to work for me and there will be no hard feelings. You are also closed-minded, see it from the other side aswell. idiot

      Shadoz - 2011-10-24 11:55

      yes rdphiri how can you work so closely with people and not tell them. We also have a right to know who is sick and who is not. If a HIV/AIDS person where to infect me because the proper steps where not taken then she/he is a murderer plain and simple. How long has this woman know about her situation? Now she is bringing another child into this world never mind the guy she slept with who is now HIV positive himself how many more people does she and he have to sleep with and infect before we all wake up and relize this is being handled wrong.

      Levett - 2011-10-24 12:07

      Rather salute to Steve Biko Academic Hospital for this responsible pro-active action. Well done and I hope that the other hospitals follow suit.

      Lehlohonolo - 2011-10-24 12:13

      @Shadoz...yet you'd be fine having her in your house with a flu, a sore throat, even some sort of cancer. When will you learn Shadoz?? Quit stigmatizin HIV. Its a disease like any other. Get yaself educated on HIV and behave yourself.

      Dank - 2011-10-24 12:15

      How do you think the employer will feel if the rest of the office finds out they all got infected because the employer wouldn't get rid of the person with AIDS? Don't you think that's a little selfish of the AIDS victim? Leper colony ring any bells?

      Dank - 2011-10-24 12:20

      @Lehlohonolo, yea sure it's a disease like any other, EXCEPT it's incurable, life-threatening AND contagious

      Shadoz - 2011-10-24 12:35

      lehlonolo wow so the flu is now as deadly as AIDS wow gonna have to watch out for that deadly flu virus. And NO if she has flu she must stay at home

      Ann - 2011-10-24 13:59

      It is the employees right to privacy as much as it is the employers right to know. In stead of treating this as a total calamity, how about both parties making use of the information that is out there. The website is full of informative advice that can really assist both parties to find out how to handle the situation. I am sure the employee never went out of her way to contract the disease, but like many people was unaware of the risks involved. Nothing about that can change, but she can live a full and healthy life with the right treatment and information. Both parties are being reactive currently and they should really try to become pro-active. Anti-retrovirals will be the best course of treatment for this lady, she will feel better and even be able to have a healthy baby. For starters, look on the following website of a locally based centre: http://www.tshepangtrust.org/ Become informed and take away the blame!

      Tanzanite - 2011-10-24 14:38

      I feel that if you work closely with people, and children, such as a domestic worker, you should tell the people you work for. I have a friend who employed an HIV+ domestic worker to help out once a week or so. She has her own cutlery and cups in the house. The domestic worker made it clear from day 1 that she is HIV positive and will make sure that no-one else gets infected, cuts... blood..... What if something happens to her at work, you need to disclose that information to the hospital upon arrival, to make sure that she gets the proper treatment and medication...

      barry.mcbride - 2011-10-24 16:05

      Ranting on about AIDS is unruly because only HIV+ is mentioned and there’s a big difference. Unlike the common cold & influenza, it’s actually an extremely difficult virus to catch under such circumstances because the HIV virus barely survives once outside its host.

  • Tieneke - 2011-10-24 10:38

    Very wrong on the labs side and the employers side. Sue their asses off.

      Dank - 2011-10-24 12:18

      And how would you feel if someone with AIDS came working for you and infected half your family?

      maritza.meyer - 2011-10-24 12:47

      @Dank..are you really that close minded? How is she going to infect your family? If proper precautions are taken, then infection is minimal. My mother had a domestic worker for years who was HIV positive and she was never treated any different, she was part of the family, My uncle also died from HIV when i was young. Educate yourself please before making such a stupid inconsiderate comment!

      alongman - 2011-10-24 12:50

      Dank, do you really expect half your family to have unprotected sex and/or share needles with someone with AIDS who is working for you? Because that's really the only way they will become infected with HIV.

      Dank - 2011-10-24 15:01

      @maritza.meyer "How is she going to infect" - ok then how did she get infected in the first place? Now you will say, well what if she got raped? Ok, where did the rapist get it? And where did the person whom infected the rapist get it? etc. "proper precautions ... infection is minimal" - I don't care if it's miniscule, it's life-threatening and one slip could mean the end of your family? My precautions entail staying away from someone whom can kill me with a drop of blood. @alongman IF we go by your standards, maritza.meyer's uncle probably slept with their domestic worker. I don't expect any person (sane or insane) to do that, nevermind my family. Sex is NOT the only way to get infected. If one of your family members got infected your chances of infection is drastically increased. "working for you" - and what if this person was responsible for cooking your food or looking after your kids during the day? Don't get me wrong, it's a very tragic condition to be in, but having an HIV/AIDS patient cook my food is like having an Alzheimer's patient do my books. The one is just life-threatening.

      Tieneke - 2011-10-24 15:05

      @ Dank I am educated thank you and have 2 of my 6 employees are HIV positive. I help them with a healthy died, and regular visits to the clinic for their ARV meds. Catch a wake up HIV is not spread by looking after kids, washing dishes. Go and educate yourself. And the rest that are stupid on the subject......

      Tanzanite - 2011-10-24 15:13

      Tieneke, Well good for you then to take care of 2 hiv+ individuals, you know the risks involved, how to contract hiv and how not... I can not see how an hiv+ individual can look after kids during the day, her status unknown to the employer. How will kids know what to do when the worker gets injured... And stop calling others 'stupid on the subject'... most of us on here are very much educated in hiv prevention and hiv itself... I really don't mind an hiv+ person working in the same company or making my coffee, but I'll be very reluctant to employ an hiv+ child minder...

      Dank - 2011-10-24 15:49

      Telling me there's no risk involved when employing an HIV+ person is like saying there's no risk involved when driving into a brick wall. You've made the proper precautions right? Like airbags, a seatbelt and a crumpling nose? Why do we even have death or injury on the road?

  • Thulebona - 2011-10-24 10:43

    This is such a sad reality being faced by most domestics in SA... only a few make it to the newspapers... Unfortunately some people still treat other people with contempt like this... I hope this won't be made to be about race, but rather about human rights... but hey some people can't help but be st*pid about things...

      Jacques - 2011-10-24 11:58

      that is the truth @thule. this could have happened to anyone anywhere.

      DuToitCoetzee - 2011-10-24 12:48

      @Thulebona. I believe that worker's right to privacy should be protected, but I believe the employer, in household/domestic circumstances, have the right to know as well. They should have both been ask to attend an informing session together where the sickness and fears could have been addressed. A lack of knowledge can be detrimental for a previously good relationship. We see even in the residential concept(township/suburbs) that discrimination happens due to lack of information. My suggestion to those two ladies is to go together for an informing session and adjust your working method accordingly....if necessary. I get a feeling that the worker will need the support of the employer and that the employer can still have a good worker for many years. One that she is used to and are happy with. Hope you two can find a way of making it work and if the worker still goes ahead with the claim you two must not make it part of your relationship. Even that they informed the employer.

      Ann - 2011-10-24 14:39

      The answer is to become informed and stop the blame game!

  • Jacques - 2011-10-24 10:45

    this is horrible!! the lab should be held responsible for this mess. we have a right to privacy regarding medical records.

      Reshan - 2011-10-24 10:52

      Where's the protection of personal information act? Tired of cellphone companies, banks, my uncle... trying to sell me stuff...

      Sganja - 2011-10-24 11:13

      I agree Jacques..

      margyhp - 2011-10-24 11:39

      Maybe she never called the lab. Maybe she pulled her bluff and guessed her condition and got it spot on. Just maybe...

  • Charmain - 2011-10-24 10:47

    i will not have someone working for me with HIV/Aids, I must be mad

      Trevor - 2011-10-24 10:59

      So you have an accident and in the process you get infected with HIV, you wont be singing that song. so please get real

      Moss - 2011-10-24 11:09

      Did u get tested? U mite be carrying the virus alrdy

      Rob - 2011-10-24 11:29

      Why? Do you sleep with your employees, share needles with them or is it just that you beat them till they bleed and you're worried the blood spatters might land on you?

      cathy.eksteen - 2011-10-24 11:33

      Wait til someone tells you that you can't work for them cause you have HIV. It's very often you must've heard that saying "never say never".. Very NAIVE of you Charmain. Educate yourself about HIV and then come make more stupid comments.

      rbphiri - 2011-10-24 11:34

      Charmain think of this scenario, lets say one of your family member happens to be raped and is infected as a result, and her employers fire her due to her status. Would you agree with the decision her employers have taken?

      Melanie - 2011-10-24 11:37

      Very ignorant of you.Obviously the HIV/Aids information has not reached you yet.

  • Brett - 2011-10-24 10:54

    So a person has a deadly. communicable disease and "human rights" dictates that it must be kept a secret? What about the rights of people that are HIV-free and want to ramain that way?

      gideon.iii - 2011-10-24 11:01

      I agree. If a person with a deadly disease is working for me and there's even a 1% chance of contracting the disease due to some freak accident I would at least want to know about the possibility. I'm not condoning her change in attitude towards the worker, but I completely understand her wanting to know.

      Chris - 2011-10-24 11:09

      Do you really understand how an HI virus can be transmitted? You're such an ignorant person I must say.

      Willie - 2011-10-24 11:10

      Brett i have read your comments in the past and i have to believe that your not ignorant.Please just don't post the comment for the sake of fun

      Brett - 2011-10-24 11:16

      @Chris and Willie microbiology was one of my major subjects during my tertiary education. Would you like to get into a discussion on this? Where would you like to begin? I would say lets begin with virology seen as the disease in question is caused by a virus...ok you start...

      Hang - 2011-10-24 11:31

      100% agree with you! And if it was my house, she musn't even step foot in the house anywhere near my children.

      Grant - 2011-10-24 11:38

      @Chris. Read Bretts comment again. He said if there was even a 1% chance. Suppose the osie cuts herself and you rush to help her?

  • Gabby - 2011-10-24 10:58

    I am of the opinion that all employers of domestic workers should know, to ensure that the necesary precautions are made, adequet surgical gloves, plasters etc.etc. Remember that some domestic workers are also child minders, Would you knowingly leave you child with a HIV minder without plasters, gloves for cleaniing wounds etc?

      Grant - 2011-10-24 11:50

      Very well put.

  • vutomi.mbombi - 2011-10-24 11:00

    Sue them

  • Maila - 2011-10-24 11:02

    shame. hiv or flu, it does not matter. sadly people do not recognise the value that domestic workers add in RSA...many people are raised by so-called helpers / ousies..may we see a South Africa with more sensitive people.

      dewald.galjaard - 2011-10-24 12:25

      Ermm actually it does matter. You don't 'get over' HIV as you 'get over' your common cold. Accidents happen and therefore I would allow someone who is infected around my kids on a daily basis as much as I would allow someone with a loaded gun. As employers, we have the right to know.

  • Silver - 2011-10-24 11:04

    ... and the employer doesn’t have to right to know that someone is bringing a deadly virus into their workplace and that employing that person will have a detrimental effect on medical aid and pension funds not to mention an underperforming employee? Sometimes I wonder. Even worse, HIV does in itself not kill but combine with other infection and become deadly. With these different diseases and allowing just the opportunity for these diseases to come in contact with colleagues or still worse your family..... unacceptable. What about the people’s right to know? Why can’t I not decide I don’t want an infected person working for me or near my family? What about my rights?

      Rina - 2011-10-24 11:12

      Well said silver. Totally agree with you. "Rights" should not be a one way street.

      Frikkie - 2011-10-24 11:16

      Absolutely true. I will take every employee for testing. You will not work for me or my other employees with AIDS. You should have gotten your boyfriend, husband tested before humping him. You should know by now that black men are "entitled" to hump everything that moves

  • Frikkie - 2011-10-24 11:11

    And the employer's rights? If you have AIDS, you must disclose it to your boss or company, period. What if the worker cuts him/herself, you try to help and you get infected? This is utter BS!!!! I will not employ ANY person if I don't know the status of the person involved. It is my right to know whether I'm save or not in MY company

      Rob - 2011-10-24 11:34

      If your worker gets cut, regardless of wheather they are HIV positive or not, you ALWAYS need to wear gloves, etc and never ever come into contact with another persons blood. HIV isn't the only virus that can be tranmitted through blood, its EVERY virus, life threatening or not.

      James - 2011-10-24 11:37

      You obviously do not employ anyone. U cannot force your workforce to undergo testing. You think like a child.

      Phillistus - 2011-10-24 12:06

      so Frikkie if someone has to come work for you they have disclose their status? are also going to do the same? do all tests and show her so she can be extra careful around you with whatever you might have?

      Dank - 2011-10-24 12:44

      @James, so then how can you be forced to take drug tests?

      James - 2011-10-24 13:17

      @dank. It can be and is policy in many companies to allow a company to test a person for drugs and alcohol in their system if the company suspects that the employee has been misusing drugs and alcohol. They knowingly took the substances. It is not a medical condition.

      Frikkie - 2011-10-25 13:34

      @James, because you have aids after humping the maid, you want to hide it from your wife, right? You have no idea how many people I employ.

  • Mzamo - 2011-10-24 11:11

    I am patiently waiting to see what the Human Rights Commission, Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and AfriForum will do about this. They normally quickly pull up their sleeves if such things happen.

      Mzamo - 2011-10-24 12:02

      May be I am mistaken.... This is has nothing to do with Julius Malema, so they will keep quiet!

      Dank - 2011-10-24 12:48

      Yeah, those decisions should come from medical professionals, not ill-minded politicians. But as everything else in a democracy, technical facts are simply information and not a basis for any politically motivated action. This is why democracy fails.

      Mzamo - 2011-10-24 13:13

      @Dank - when Malema made a speech about the lady who was allegedly raped by JZ, TAC jumped to their guns and dragged the matter to the court, Human Right Commision and AfriForum gave 101% support! I am expecting the same re-action on this case as well! If not.... it will mean that these organisations are politically manipulated!

  • Alie - 2011-10-24 11:20

    For those of you that are supporting the employer's attitude, jus tell me if you would also feel the same way if it were you infected and had to take care of your own kids as a mother.... so would you stop taking of your children and not prepare food for your families?

      Gabby - 2011-10-24 11:30

      That is why I said to enable the employer to take the necesary precautions.......

      Shaun - 2011-10-24 11:36

      Its not that we are saying that the person must be ostracized for having HIV, but the right of the employer to assess the risks that they are taking by employing the person, which would allow them to take appropriate precautions. An example would be gloves and plaster, maybe a limitation of certain house work, whether in your own family or your employers.

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2011-10-24 12:02

      read again the employer was fine with her status, the problem was that the lab revealed her status .

      Silver - 2011-10-24 12:25

      Alie: An employee gets employed without revealing his status. 6 months later he falls ill. He puts strain on the medical system. 6 months later he dies and all pension and (sometimes) medical benefits falls on the spouse/children (whom might also be infected). It’s non productive and very costly and the unions grown when businesses are computerized, mechanized or moved offshore and in the end it makes labour unreliable, unproductive and costly. Now times this affect by oh a couple of million. Now I understand your empathy but why should (once again) the tax payer (hard working people) pay and why should business suffer? Why are people allowed to have children when they are dying or can’t look after them? Why is there such a culture of sleeping around and spreading this horrible disease and why is business and employers being held responsible if not being put at risk themselves? You say just AIDS, we should not be afraid but it’s not just AIDS is it? As far as I’m considered 0.001% is too much of the risk and why should other employees (who also have families I might add) be “done in” or put at risk? Over and above this, a person can be denied a position based on their skin colour, why not the same for their medical record?

  • Moi - 2011-10-24 11:28

    My domestic worker got really ill a couple of months ago. She told me she had tested positive. She took about 2 months off to get onto the treatment and recover. She is back at work now and I'm happy to have her back. She is a wonderful lady and she has a young daughter to look after. She was unfortunately married to a man who turned out to be very promiscuous. Why should she now have to pay for his mistakes?

  • Fezeka - 2011-10-24 11:34

    I cant undertand why people they think that their clean. Be for you point fingers on other people you must chech your status first. I am working with the lady also told me i'm HIV POSITIVE, She told me thursday i dont know what i must do to make here pay for what she says

  • Noninho - 2011-10-24 11:51

    Sorry but a deadly disease is a deadly deasise. No matter what it is, You shouldn't take a chance.

      RudyRat - 2011-10-24 12:07

      Rubbish!! clearly you have made no effort to learn about aids. janine is right. My friend employs someone who has aids and did not fire him because he was found to have it. Instead she educates him about the importance of medicating daily and eating healthier. She also educates him on how to prevent spreading it ( eg not having unprotected sex ). He will now live longer as he has recieved valuable information and support and his family will not end up suffering because he has not lost his job. I believe this is the attitude we should all adopt.

  • Susan - 2011-10-24 11:58

    I am surprised at how ignorant people are. Do they not realise there are very few instances in which HIV is transmitted? I believe the employer also has a right to know, so that he/she can be aware of it should a blood injury on the part of the employee should occur, so precautions can be taken. I had an instance where my domestic had TB, refused to tell me, then passed it on to my grand-daughter! If she had told me, perhaps an innocent could have been protected! Making tea, cleaning do not cause HIV.

  • Bongani - 2011-10-24 12:25

    All of these people who are judging this domestic worker, just ask yourself where was your partner over the weekend. you can get HIV in many ways and colour has nothing to do with it. I think all of those people who still think HIV is reserved for certain kind of people, you have something coming your way.White men like black women and black men really like white women. then go ahead and be stupid.

  • Alla - 2011-10-24 12:26

    This is a breach ofhttp://www.audiorosettastone.com/ the Employment Equity Act which prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee on the grounds of HIV,

  • Florence - 2011-10-24 12:30

    The problem is some other people they don't know nothing about HIV that's why they speak rubbish, go an do some lessons about HIV then you will know how to treat other poeple ,u ediots, HIV is like any other diseases. and even you one day you will have this diseas don't take yourself like you are living in heaven nxxx

      Iwan - 2011-10-24 13:51

      I know it is a serious topic, but I had to smile at your post, especially the "poeple, u ediots" part.

      Hlamalani - 2011-10-24 15:06

      ROTFLMFAO @ Iwan.... it is kinda funny!!!

  • Grant - 2011-10-24 12:30

    I believe employers have the right to know a workers medical condition especially if it's aids or hiv. I feel for infected people but don't believe it's right that a nemployer has to bear the financtial burden of a worker who is going to be off work sick most of the time. All employees shouldbe made to shower whe they arrive at work. It may not prevent HIV but at least they will smell better!

  • Myth - 2011-10-24 12:36

    When everybody has AIDS, then it won't matter anymore. Until then the un-infected should be protected. Right to privacy? You never had it so put that stnki pu to rest...

  • Shellerjc - 2011-10-24 12:41

    Oh Brother - HIV is only contagiuos when you have sexual intercourse with someone who is HIV POS - Come one people, she is not going to infect her boss, UNLESS they share a bed.... Agreed her status was and should not have been public, but my heart also goes to her boss. You try to help and the more you try the more you get shafted.

  • Oompiet - 2011-10-24 12:55

    @ Chairman and the likes. Statistics say that 20% of SA population is HIV+. It means 2 out of every 10 people are HIV+.How many employees do you(Chairman) have in your company? With that logic if they exceed 10 then you might consider firing at least 2. your selfishness render you stupid and your kind will never learn as long as you cannot co-exist with others. You are slowly sinking in a sea of ignorance because these type of problems will are here to stay long after you are dead and gone(maybe of AIDS).

  • charmaine.pauwels - 2011-10-24 13:03

    Wow, still so many people that are not educated enough on HIV - so sad!

  • mandy.raubenheimer - 2011-10-24 13:05

    To the Employer - you said that she always looks after you and you were concerned about her well being - well now you know - why are you so bloody stupid and understand that she is still a human with feelings - would you want people to treat you the way you are treating her - you make me angry!!!

  • alexandra.nett - 2011-10-24 14:44

    While you have rights, so too does your employer have rights and you should have disclosed your status.......you are irresponsible....pregnant! Shame on you....another poor innocent life placed in danger.....ever heard of safe sex ......ever heard of family planning......you should be jailed for endangering an innocent life. Our country is FULL of unwanted sick children because of people like yourself.....I APPLAUD THE HOSPITAL AND ENCOURAGE ALL THE HOSPITALS TO DO THE SAME!

  • Kay - 2011-10-24 15:00

    we have a domestic worker with aids and we found out with her, and yes we all cried, bt nw we pay for her meds and take the proper precausitions, aids isnt a joke, and its def nt flu, once u got it thats it, so i dnt blame this employer, yet she is going a bit too crazy and should just learn more about aids with her domestic by her side so that everyone can be safe.

  • Daleen - 2011-10-24 15:57

    Stop sleeping with people who does not give proof of HIV status. That is how all this could be prevented.

  • Garreth - 2011-10-24 17:52

    I think the employer has the righjt to let her go but unfortunately she did it the wrong way. If the lady is off work often because of sickness, She obviously is not able to work and therefore should be dismissed based on incapacity. She is basically to ill to do her job. The employer was wrong unfortunately. She should've followed procedure.

  • jennifer.lucero1 - 2011-10-25 02:41

    HAHAHA! I love how ignorant people are... NOT. The whole office can't get HIV unless they were sharing drugs with the lady and if they were having unprotected sex with her. dummy. Ok morons. Listen up. You need an HIV 101. I work in the prevention field concerning HIV. FIRST THINGS FIRST... You will NOT get infected unless you come into these SPECIFIC 4 fluids- blood, vaginal fluid, semen and breast milk. Those are fluids that have been SCIENTIFICALLY proven to carry the virus. NOT SALIVA. Touching someone won't pass it. Looking at someone won't pass it. Sneezes do not pass it (like the common cold- you will get a cold, a virus, from your office workers rather than HIV) And it's not anyone's right to know if one of their workers have HIV. That is why we have laws to protect privacy. One can take "precaution" by not coming in contact with any of those fluids in general- honestly wouldn't you avoid those fluids anyway? SO for those who say they have a right to know- then I have the right to know your gross disgusting details of your life. And in fact- I have the right to tell everyone and make sure you nasty little ignorant pea brains are exposed to the public so everyone will know what a ding dong you are....

  • davidlebogang.mataboge - 2011-10-25 07:23

    Health Department must get rid of all corrupt lab officials,they destroy people`s lifes.they think only for themselfs,they are selfish and rude.

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