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Without proof of actual exposure to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a claim for fear of contracting acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is too speculative to be legally cognizable. Simply put, it is unreasonable for a person to fear infection when that person has not been exposed to a disease. A requirement of actual exposure to HIV distinguishes claims based on conjecture and speculation from those that are based on a genuine fear of contracting AIDS.
The circumstances of the medical employees' employment were such that they suggested the possibility of exposure to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The medical employees argued on appeal that they should be able to recover damages for their fear of contracting AIDS for the time period between a possible exposure to HIV and the receipt of reasonably conclusive HIV-negative test results. The doctors and university contended that the medical employees' fears of contracting AIDS could not be reasonable without actual exposure to HIV.
Was the claim for damages for fear of contracting AIDS tenable?
The court stated that without proof of actual exposure to HIV, a claim for fear of contracting AIDS was too speculative to be legally cognizable. The court stated that simply put, it was unreasonable for a person to fear infection when that person had not been exposed to a disease. The court expressed its belief that while an individual need not demonstrate a likelihood of developing AIDS in the future in order to state a claim for fear of contracting AIDS, once in receipt of reliable HIV-negative test results an individual's fear of contracting AIDS would no longer be reasonable.