• DSHS HIV/STD Program
    Post Office Box 149347, MC 1873
    Austin, TX 78714

    Phone: 737-255-4300

    Email the HIV/STD Program

    Email HIV, STD, Hepatitis C, and TB data requests to the Program – Use this email to request Texas HIV, STD, Hepatitis C, and TB data and statistics. Do not use this email to request treatment or infection history for individuals, or to request information on programs or services. Do not email personal, identifying health information such as HIV status, date of birth, or Social Security Number.

    For treatment/testing history, please contact your local health department.

    For information on HIV testing and services available to persons living with HIV, please contact your local HIV services organization.

HIV/AIDS and the Workplace

Watch the video below about HIV and the Workplace.

HIV and the Workplace

You may be wondering what HIV and AIDS could have to do with your job and workplace. Well, it depends on the type of work you do. Some people, like health care workers, may encounter HIV every day. Most of us, though, don’t need to give much thought to HIV when it comes to our jobs. And that makes a lot of sense because HIV is not spread through the type of casual day-to-day contact that most of us have with other people in our jobs. It does make sense to be familiar with HIV for our health, as well as with the situations that might come up at work that do involve HIV.

What you should know about HIV, AIDS, and the workplace:

  • HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, a disease that destroys a person’s immune system.
  • There are only a few ways that a person can be exposed to HIV - most of which don’t involve work-related situations.
  • It is easy to protect yourself from exposure to HIV, both in your personal life and in workplace settings.

Some general information about HIV/AIDS:

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the final stage of an infection caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and is also known as Stage 3 HIV. HIV attacks the body’s immune system, hurting the body’s ability to fight off diseases and other infections.

There is no cure for HIV or AIDS. There are also no clear symptoms of HIV infection, although some people may have flu-like symptoms for a few days after infection with HIV. But, even if an infected person has no symptoms, and feels and looks healthy, he or she can still pass the virus to others.

HIV medication, when taken as prescribed to a person living with HIV (PWLH), helps the person stay virally suppressed which makes transmitting HIV to a person who does not have HIV rare. This is sometimes called Treatment as Prevention (TasP).

HIV spreads from person to person in the following body fluids:

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Vaginal secretions
  • Breast milk

HIV is NOT spread through the environment; it is a very fragile blood-borne virus. PLWH do not pose a threat to co-workers or clients during casual, day-to-day activities and contacts.

You CANNOT become HIV positive through:

  • Handshakes
  • Hugs or casual touching
  • Close working conditions
  • Telephones, office equipment, or furniture
  • Sinks, toilets, or showers
  • Dishes, utensils, or food
  • Sneezing or coughing
  • Air
  • Water
  • Insects

There are only a few ways for a person to come in contact with HIV:

  • By having sex, either anal, oral, or vaginal, without the use of a condom.
  • By sharing needles, syringes, and other instruments that break the skin, such as tattoo and/or ear/body piercing needles.
  • From an HIV-positive mother to her baby during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.
  • By encountering HIV-positive blood either through an open wound or through a blood transfusion. Risks from transfusions are now very low because of blood screening, which started in 1985.

How HIV/AIDS affects you in your workplace:

As you can see from the information above, most of the behaviors that pass HIV from one person to another do not occur in the workplace. The only way that most people in the average workplace could be exposed to HIV would be if they had an open wound and someone else’s infected blood entered their body through that broken skin.

How to avoid HIV exposure in the workplace:

It is easy to avoid exposure to HIV and other blood-borne diseases by using good personal hygiene and common sense at all times:

  • Keep broken skin covered with a clean, dry bandage.
  • Avoid direct contact with blood spills.
  • Wear gloves to clean spills that contain visible blood.
  • Clean blood spills with an appropriate disinfectant or 1:10 solution of freshly mixed household bleach and water. After cleanup, wash hands thoroughly with soap and running water.

Ways to reduce your risk for HIV infection in your personal life:

  • Do not have sex (abstain)
  • Delay having sex until you are in a faithful relationship with one person who you know is not living with HIV.
  • If you choose not to abstain from sex or to limit sex to one faithful partner not living with HIV, then always use a latex condom every time you have sex (oral, anal, or vaginal). If used correctly and every time you have sex, latex condoms can protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
  • If you think you may be in situations where you may come in contact with HIV, ask your provider about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). PreP are drugs given to people who are not living with HIV to help them lower their chances of contracting HIV if exposed.
  • If you have a drug habit, do not share needles or syringes. If you can’t stop sharing needles/syringes, clean them with bleach and then rinse them with water between every use. Also, do not share any other types of needles, such as tattoo and ear/body piercing needles
  • The best thing for your health is to stop using drugs. If you need help to stop using, call the National Drug Abuse Hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

If you work with someone who is living with HIV and/or AIDS:

If you have a cold, flu, or another virus, remember that PLWH do not have a healthy immune system. They are more likely to become ill from a virus that a healthy person’s body could easily fight. Remember, too, that PLWH are like anyone else living with an ailment: they need care, support, and understanding.

El VIH, el SIDA, y el lugar de trabajo (Español)

HIV and the Workplace 4-148
HIV/AIDS and the Workplace

Developed to meet the requirements for annual HIV/AIDS education for state employees outlined in Texas Health and Safety Code Section 85.111.
Also, see Business Responds to AIDS

Other Resources

Business Responds to AIDS
Business Responds to AIDS (BRTA) is a free public-private partnership initiative of CDC that supports small, medium ,and large-size businesses with tailored resources and tools of effective workplace programs and human resource (HR) policies to reduce stigma and prevent discrimination against employees living with HIV.

Preventing the Spread of Bloodborne Pathogens (PDF)
A fact sheet about standard precautions to help prevent the spread of bloodborne pathogens and other diseases whenever there is a risk of exposure to blood or other body fluids.

Sample OSHA Written Programs
Templates of OSHA-required written programs that you can save and modify to your company's specifications.

DSHS Audiovisual Library
Videos on many health-related topics, including HIV prevention and bloodborne pathogens in the workplace, are available to check out or view online. Free to Texas residents.

Last updated July 11, 2022