People who know me are aware of my strong support of science and evidence based care. If you’re my friend you know that as long as you don’t betray the friendship, I am there when you need me. So when I recently discovered that a friend of mine was being treated unfairly because of ignorance, it wasn’t surprising to those that know me that I was irate.
Clint Moore is a Paramedic for Air Evac Lifeteams, a flight service that does a lot of good including educational outreach that has improved the knowledge base of many providers. When Clint learned he was HIV positive he was taken off of flight status, and told he would have to gain approval of multiple states to regain this. I understand that this is likely due to state rules, and Air Evac was stuck in a situation because of this, but the very idea that a Paramedic with HIV is a threat to his patient is both statistically unlikely and an insult to the professionalism of the Paramedics and Nurses that make up these teams.
A quick review for those of you that are unaware of this, HIV is a blood borne pathogen that requires specific vectors for transmission that would necessitate a healthcare provider to intentionally infect a patient. Accidental transmission in a clinical or prehospital environment would be nearly impossible. Basic BSI precautions, which are used on every call, will prevent this.
The reason I state this is because there are laws in place that prevent these providers functioning. Laws like this serve only to punish these people, and prevent good providers from performing the duties they are educated and qualified to perform. The only reason laws like this are on the books is due to the fact that the most common people infected with HIV are homosexual and bisexual men, a group that is still commonly looked down upon. It is legalized discrimination.
So when my friend found out he was infected, he reported his status and was punished, despite the fact that he was not a serious risk to his patients. Because of archaic and bigoted rules, if you act in a responsible manner you become more likely to punished, than if you just keep your mouth shut. That is pathetic.
That is the technical and legal side of this. Now let’s discuss the other side of this. Clint is not a friend I get to see or talk to as much as I like. Life happens and those that we are close to often leads us to be far apart. But this man is my friend. Clint has had his career and purpose stripped from him, despite the fact that he did the right thing. But, when he went public he found out something he didn’t know. His friends will be there for him. If you have this horrible disease, or know someone who does, make sure they know you care and are there for them. The stigma attached to it is known to make those afflicted feel isolated. They are still the person they were before this happened, and they likely need your support, friendship, and love more than ever.