Airline employees may be grounded for three months when diagnosed with HIV

20 July 2018 - 19:53 By Nico Gous
Mango Airlines confirmed on Friday it was investigating a text message allegedly sent by one of its employees to another staff member‚ saying they should not return to work because they are black and have HIV
Mango Airlines confirmed on Friday it was investigating a text message allegedly sent by one of its employees to another staff member‚ saying they should not return to work because they are black and have HIV
Image: REUTERS/Rogan Ward

Airline employees who are diagnosed with HIV may be grounded for three months when they are diagnosed.

This is according to the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) guide for aviation medical examiners. 

Mango Airlines confirmed on Friday it was investigating a text message allegedly sent by one of its employees to another staff member‚ saying they should not return to work because they are black and HIV positive

The text message‚ in the form of a screengrab posted on social media‚ comes from someone saved as “Mandy HR Mango” in the recipient’s phonebook.

It has since gone viral.

The message reads: “Mango cannot allow you to work with us‚ you are black and HIV positive. That is just too much for us.”

Mango spokesperson Sergio dos Santos said: “The SMS in question does not align with our values or policies and we can confirm that it’s not an official communication from the company. We will be releasing more information once it is made available.”

By Friday evening‚ it had not yet released such a statement.

According to the CAA’s guidelines‚ employees can return to work when they see an HIV specialist and submit their: • History of infection; • Current and previous symptoms; • History of opportunistic infections or associated illnesses; • History of CD4+ T cell counts; • History of viral load measurements; • Medication history including over-the-counter and alternative medicines; and • Report on the side effects of their medications.

They must also submit the following laboratory tests: • Hepatitis B and C‚ cytomegalovirus‚ toxoplasma‚ tuberculosis; and • Full blood count‚ urea‚ creatinine and electrolytes‚ liver function tests‚ fasting glucose‚ lipogram.

They must undergo these reviews: • Neurological review to assess their reflexes; • Neuropsychological review that includes timed psychomotor tasks and memory tasks requiring attention‚ learning‚ active monitoring and retrieval of information. • Psychiatric if clinically indicated; and • Cardiological if clinically indicated.

The CAA said their medical department processes applicants diagnosed with HIV/Aids the same way as those with other chronic illnesses such as hypertension or diabetes. They added their health protocols are aligned with international standards and recommended‚ and discussed with the aviation industry.

“None of them [personnel] have been declined a medical certificate based on race‚ gender or other factors‚ except the underlying clinical conditions such as the presence of opportunistic infections or non-compliance to the medical standards.”

The medical certificates of such employees can be withdrawn if acute or serious opportunistic infections are found or if they do not go for regular checkups.

“Patients have to be stable on the medication that they are using. This is important‚ since the applicants are in the aviation field where altitude issues have to be considered.”

The CAA said that being in the air was different from other jobs because of added stressors such as hypoxia‚ noise and vibration‚ low humidity leading to dehydration‚ fatigue‚ decompression syndrome‚ acceleration and spatial disorientation.

“Because of these stressors‚ the aircrew‚ including Mango Airlines‚ is required to maintain a high level of physical and mental fitness‚” the authority said.


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