HIV/AIDS and Athletics
To date, there have been no documented cases of HIV transmission during athletic activity(1,2,4,6,9). Based on current medical and epidemiologic information, HIV infection alone is insufficient grounds to prohibit athletic competition. The decision to not restrict student athletes (hereafter referred to as athletes) merely because they are infected with HIV is supported by the joint position statement of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) and the American Academy for Sports Medicine (AASM)(2), and the position statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)(1), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)(4), the United States Olympic Committee(7), and the American College Health Association (ACHA)(8). The risk of contracting HIV during the course of athletic activity is extremely low.
In accordance with these position statements, Ithaca College supports the above conclusion and believes it is not justified to require mandatory HIV testing for intercollegiate athletes, particularly in light of the fact that no cases of HIV transmission during athletic competition have been documented. Mandatory testing of athletes would fail to decrease the small risk of HIV transmission in athletics(4,5). Risk of HIV infection is more closely associated with behaviors external to sports competition. Educational programs directed toward the traditional routes of HIV infection will teach athletes how to prevent HIV infection by acting responsibly, and will also promote good health practices(4,5). Voluntary HIV testing is available to any student who might be at risk for HIV infection and can be arranged through the campus health center.
In accordance with Ithaca College's policy regarding the rights and privacy of individuals, members of the college community should take care to respect the confidentiality of information concerning persons with AIDS, HIV-related illness, or a positive HIV test. The decision to disclose information related to this particular aspect of the athlete's medical history should remain a privilege of the infected individual, and it is of paramount importance that a strict policy of confidentiality be followed. Adherence to this policy helps limit the risk of discrimination against those with AIDS, HIV-related illness, or a positive HIV test.
The decision to allow continued athletic participation of an athlete with AIDS, HIV-related illness, or a positive HIV test should be based on the athlete's current health status, and left up to the discretion of the athlete and his/her physician(2,4,8). Eligibility to participate in athletics for the HIV infected athlete should be determined using the same procedures and standards used for all other athletes(8). Continued medical check-ups are recommended for the HIV infected athlete to ensure the best health interests of the athlete for continued sports participation.
The above policy is based on the best currently available medical facts regarding HIV/AIDS and will be revised if new information warrants.