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Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is an infectious disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Persons afflicted with AIDS suffer a severe loss of natural immunity against disease, leaving them vulnerable to opportunistic diseases, which are generally not a threat to other people. Individuals who are infected by the virus may develop AIDS or some lesser manifestation of infection (such as AIDS-related complex) or remain asymptomatic. Colby recognizes that, currently, the prevention of infection is the only defense against the AIDS epidemic and sees community education as its primary strategy in preventing the spread of HIV.
The HIV virus is not transmitted from infected person to uninfected person through casual contact, but can be transmitted through the exchange of semen, blood, and other body fluids during intimate sexual contact. Transmission also occurs by sharing HIV-contaminated needles or, much less frequently, through blood or blood products. The virus can be passed from infected mothers to their newborn.
Because of the fragile nature of the virus and the limited routes of transmission, current knowledge indicates that students and employees with AIDS or a positive HIV antibody test do not ordinarily pose a health risk to other students or employees in an academic setting. The United States Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control, and the American College Health Association have indicated that there is no risk created by living in the same house as an infected person; attending classes and sharing study facilities and libraries with an infected person; eating food handled by an infected person; being coughed or sneezed upon by an infected person; casual kissing; or swimming in a pool with an infected person.
These facts, derived from the best epidemiological data currently available, are the basis for the following policy statement.
Members of the Colby community who are infected with HIV have rights as members of this community. Such persons also have a responsibility to the community and are expected to act in accordance with known medical advice to prevent the spread of infection to others. Individuals infected with HIV are strongly urged to seek expert clinical care from a physician. The Colby College Health Services will make every effort to protect the privacy of individuals infected with HIV and the confidentiality of that diagnosis. Any recommendations regarding AIDS or HIV infection will be based on guidelines from the United States Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control, and the American College Health Association.