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Fassbinder, Barbara, 1951-1994



  • Existence: 1951 - 1994


Barbara Herring Fassbinder was born September 29, 1953, the daughter of James and Ethel Herring of Marion, Iowa. She attended Catholic grade school and graduated from Cedar Rapids High School in 1971 and the University of Iowa College of Nursing in 1975. In 1974, she married David Fassbinder and after her graduation, they moved to a farm near Monona, Iowa. There, they raised three children while David Fassbinder ran an apiary and after 1979 Barbara worked as a nurse at Memorial Hospital in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.

While working in the emergency room in 1986, she contracted the HIV virus. At that time, her children were ages 3, 6, and 9. Fearing the prejudice against AIDS victims, she did not disclose her diagnosis until 1990, when she decided to announce her infection to encourage other health care professionals take the necessary precautions against HIV infection on the job.

Once publicly identified as a health care worker who contracted AIDS on the job, Fassbinder became a popular presenter at conferences and nationally televised interview programs. She gave testimony before the House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment in 1991 as a spokeswoman against mandatory disclosure legislation for persons infected with AIDS. Her efforts contributed to the widespread adoption of universal health precautions in health care settings and the humane treatment of persons with AIDS. Fassbinder died of the complications of AIDS in 1994.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Barbara Fassbinder papers

Identifier: IWA0410

Rural nurse who contracted AIDS on the job and became a national spokeswoman for occupational safety.

Dates: 1958-1998