Application of the Code

This policy is intended to provide particular guidance to those responsible for formulating and implementing infection control procedures in health-care settings and anti-harassment/anti-discrimination policies in the workplace, in housing and in services.

Keeping with the spirit of Code, any health protection and promotion policies should be introduced in a manner that respects the individual's privacy. Treating persons with HIV-related illness in an arbitrary or discriminatory manner that is not supported by current medical or scientific knowledge may be a violation of the Code.

Spirit of the Code

The spirit of the Code requires that persons who are HIV positive and those with HIV-related illness are to be given the opportunity to remain integral members of society and to maintain their social, employment and other relationships. This implies that any assessment of a person's illness must be based on his or her current abilities and on the situation's current risks, rather than on abilities or risks which may arise in the future. The Code's accommodation requirements are designed to ensure integration and sensitivity to the needs of persons with disabilities as they may change over time.

Respecting the dignity of the person

The Code prohibits, in all but exceptional circumstances, infection control techniques where the person with an HIV-related illness is isolated or quarantined. Current scientific knowledge on the transmission of the AIDS virus indicates that such measures do not prevent the spread of infection and are also inappropriate except in rare cases. Moreover, the fear of isolation may simply deter persons who have participated in high risk activities from seeking voluntary testing and counselling.

Universal precautions

"Universal precautions" are a set of risk reduction measures employed at all times by medical and health-care professionals and workers whenever they encounter blood or other identified body fluids. The concept of universal precautions relates to the proper handling of sharp items, and the use of barriers, such as gloves and masks, to protect the person handling the blood or body fluids. It can be adapted to different medical settings depending on the medical procedure required.[1]

Example: Dentists are expected to use the appropriate eye-wear, masks and gloves etc. when dealing with all patients.

With universal blood and body-fluid precautions widely in place, there is no need for using additional precautions for patients who are known or believed to have illnesses that can be transferred by blood.

[1]Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, Guidelines Respecting Infection Control in the Dental Office, June 1995. The College notes that its guidelines can be used by other health professional bodies in determining whether appropriate standards of practice and professional responsibilities have been maintained.