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kevin's picture
Joined: 09/03/2009
John's picture
Joined: 09/03/2008

The cohort for this study is explained in the "Intro".

Some of the points I picked up on on a generally positive report.  

"We also conducted an online survey on the gay social networking website Gaydar. This has provided us with an important insight into the workplace experience of gay and bisexual men living with HIV in Britain. Unfortunately, the absence of an equivalent online social networking site for black African people means that there is still a need for further research exploring the employment experiences of this group. "

"Disclosing your HIV status at work remains difficult; discrimination still goes on; and some people are still unaware of their employment rights under the Disability Discrimination Act 2005. " 

"Two thirds of HIV positive respondents were aware of their rights under the DDA 2005. "  

"A fifth of men who had disclosed their HIV positive status at work had experienced HIV discrimination in a current or previous job (7% current; 14% previous).  


In each case, an additional 8% were uncertain about whether poor treatment was related to HIV discrimination. A similar proportion of the HIV positive respondents had experienced discrimination related to their sexual orientation in a current job (7%)."  


"40% of respondents who had disclosed their HIV status and experienced discrimination believed they had lost a previous job as a result. "  


"A quarter of respondents who had disclosed their HIV status and had experienced discrimination reported being bullied in their current job and a third reported being bullied in a previous job. "    


Graph 11. 22% of grievances completely resolved leaving 78% partially, still ongoing or not resolved. 

I would also highlight the report recommendations.


This covers people in work and is generally very encouraging. I would be interested in the experience of those who are out of work or have been for sometime with HIV/AIDS and trying to get back into the work place. 

John's picture
Joined: 09/03/2008

 The Pink News have covered this story click here<.

anonymous (not verified)
anonymous's picture

While HIV is now a manageable condition rather than a death sentence, a new survey shows that many men with the diagnosis still feel unable to reveal their situation for fear of discrimination. Mary O'Hara reports

Andy Hewlett was 25 years old and just one year into a new career in the police force when he was diagnosed with HIV, leaving him "confused and bewildered". It also left him convinced that his life was over. But that was 15 years ago and now - as with tens of thousands of people diagnosed around the same time - radical improvements in treatment mean that he is well and his career is flourishing.

"When I was diagnosed, it was very different to how it is now," he says. "It felt like a death sentence. People I knew who had contracted HIV were dying. Here I was, just starting a new career and wondering what it would all mean."

Hewlett says he feels lucky to have been diagnosed when he was, because advances in the treatment for HIV "shifted things from a terminal illness to a manageable chronic condition". It was this, he says, that meant people in his position were going to become a common presence in the workforce and this is why research into the experiences of people in the workplace with an HIV diagnosis is essential if problems around discrimination are to be overcome.

The National Aids Trust (NAT) today publishes the first in-depth UK research into the views of people with HIV in the workplace. Hewlett, who has been a pivotal figure in developing the Metropolitan police force's policies around managing HIV, hopes it will help to put prejudice and ignorance about HIV into context. "This new research is encouraging because it shows that people with HIV are just like everybody else and do as good a job as anyone," he says. "My hope is that it will help break down prejudice."

Researchers found that the majority of people living with HIV were satisfied with their work and how they were treated. In fact, over half of the gay men who responded - it was conducted via an online survey on the social networking site Gaydar because researchers wanted to target the largest possible group of people with a positive diagnosis - said HIV had no impact on their working life, and 75% reported that the disclosure of their HIV status at work had been "generally positive".

The study also found that there was "no significant" difference between how HIV positive men and HIV negative men viewed their experience at work. Meanwhile, "despite perception", the research concluded "there was no significant difference in the number of days sick leave" taken by people with HIV compared with those without a diagnosis. Some 70% of HIV positive men had had no HIV-related sick days in the last 12 months.

Not the whole picture

According to the NAT, this is all "welcome and encouraging" stuff, but its chief executive, Deborah Jack, stresses that it is far from the whole picture. Evidence emerged from the study of persistent residual prejudice around HIV, as well as a fear on the part of some workers with HIV that they will be discriminated against if they disclose their status to colleagues or employers. Just over a fifth (21%) of men who had disclosed their HIV status said they had been on the receiving end of discrimination in either their current or previous job, and many believed their disclosure was the reason they had lost a previous job.

According to Jack, it is concerns such as these that should provide an impetus for educating employers and galvanising the campaigners for government to introduce an extra layer of employment rights to guard against "inadvertent or outright" discrimination.

"First and foremost, this research shows the level to which people who are HIV positive contribute to the UK workforce," Jack stresses. "They work across all sectors, and the research shows that their status has very little impact on how they work. But there are issues to be addressed, many of which are down to ignorance more than anything else, it would appear.

"Interestingly, and worryingly, many people were not aware of their rights under the DDA [Disability Discrimination Act]. For the purposes of the act, HIV is defined as a disability and people are protected accordingly."

The research shows that people continue to be more reluctant to be open about having HIV, than gay workers are about being "out" to co-workers, suggesting that there is still some way to go before people with HIV feel comfortable about revealing it. While 92% of respondents had disclosed their sexuality at work, only 60% had told someone at work about their HIV status. In addition, there were many who attributed the lack of openness to fear of poor treatment, with 53% of people who had not told someone at work about having HIV saying that they had anxieties about being treated less well if they did. Many were concerned that telling even one person at work would lead to breaches of confidentiality.

"These are real fears," Jack says. "In fairness, I think many employers are very good on the subject, but there are those who need to be more proactive about promoting a tolerant working environment."

Part of the problem - and something that the research revealed to be a primary source of anxiety - is the use of pre-employment health questionnaires by employers. "Men and women in focus groups reported their fears that this information could be used to discriminate against them in the job application process," the report's authors say. They add: "This fear is not unfounded. Research shows that some employers automatically excluded people during the recruitment process on health grounds."

Ben Willmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), agrees, suggesting that, in part at least, some of the concerns people who are HIV positive have around employment discrimination could be allayed with small changes to the law.

"There are good reasons for pre-employment health questionnaires, such as alerting the employer to what reasonable adjustments might be necessary to make for some potential employees," Willmott says. But what would help now, he adds, is a change to the stage in the job application process at which the health-related questions are asked. "If a provisional job offer was on the table, and the questionnaire was used after that, then it would be much easier to track if discrimination on the grounds of health had taken place," he says. "Hopefully, it would prevent inadvertent and overt prejudice."

Disclosure of disability

A coalition of organisations, including the CIPD, NAT and the Employers' Forum on Disability, have written to the equalities minister, Harriet Harman, calling for an amendment to the equalities bill going through parliament that would enshrine in law a requirement that disclosure of a disability or health condition be permitted only after "a conditional/provisional" job offer has been made. "We know of many instances where disclosure of disability has resulted in a strong candidate's application being disregarded," the letter claims.

Hewlett believes that much of what needs to be done to improve the lives of HIV positive workers generally will come down to challenging and transforming attitudes. "One day, when I was out of the office, someone sat at my desk and after a while the woman asked [my boss] whose desk she was sitting at," he recalls. "He told the woman it was my desk and she literally raised her hands away from the keyboard. My manager was astonished by her ignorance and challenged her on it.

"I think that when attitudes like that are challenged regularly and repeatedly, we will gradually reach a point where worries about discrimination are eroded. Sometimes it's not the big protests but the incremental shifts that make the difference."<


anonymous (not verified)
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anonymous (not verified)
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If you are already employed, and wondering about what your HIV diagnosis may mean for your work situation, Jobcentre Plus Disability Employment Advisers can help you. They will talk to you about your current situation and, if you would like them to, will give you and your employer advice, and explore practical ways to help you keep your job.

These advisers can also tell you about how the Disability Discrimination Act may apply to you, and direct you to local organisations that may be able to help you. You can find out more about the service Disability Employment Advisers offer here.




Unless you’re working in certain healthcare professions, there’s absolutely no requirement for you to tell your employer that you’re HIV-positive. (HV-positive healthcare workers need to inform their occupational health doctor and, if relevant, avoid doing invasive procedures. Any information on HIV status given to occupational health staff must be treated with the same confidentiality procedures as for patients.)

The Health and Safety Executive's guidance, Blood-borne viruses in the workplace, states:

Generally, there is no legal obligation on employees to disclose they have a BBV or to take a medical test for it. If an employee is known to have a BBV, this information is strictly confidential and must not be passed on to anyone else without the employee’s permission.

Nevertheless, you may choose to tell your employer in the hope that this will lead to a more supportive working environment. However, you may prefer to keep information about your health confidential in order to avoid discrimination or having to deal with colleagues' attitudes towards HIV.

If you need time off because of illness or for hospital appointments, think about how you are going to explain this without disclosing your HIV status.

The Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) website has information on issues you may need to consider, such as how to tell your employer your status, taking your medication at work and managing illness. It also provides information for employers, as does the National AIDS Trust.


HIV testing


There’s no law to stop an employer asking for an HIV test as part of a company medical for new employees. However, they’ve no right to see the result of the test result without your consent.

The only way an employer can ask an existing employee to take an HIV test is if the initial terms and conditions of a job said that this would be the case.


Employment rights


The Disability Discrimination Act provides important workplace protection to people with HIV from the moment of their HIV diagnosis. These rights are on top of those provided by other legislation.

Basically, it is unlawful for an employer with 15 or more employees to:

  • Discriminate against an HIV-positive person in recruitment and selection unless this can be ‘justified’.
  • Give an HIV-positive person less favourable treatment (including access to promotion, training and transfers, as well as dismissal and selection for redundancy) unless this can be ‘justified’.
  • Fail to make ‘reasonable’ adjustments to the work environment to enable an HIV-positive person to work.

The government is committed to ensuring that people with health conditions have their rights – including employment rights – protected. The Equality and Human Rights Commission provides information on how you can take action if you feel you have been treated unfairly at work because of your HIV status. You can find out more here or contact the EHRC helpline on:

0845 604 6610 (England)

0845 604 8810 (Wales)

0845 604 5510 (Scotland)

You can find out other ways to contact the helpline here.


Can my employer sack me because I'm ill due to HIV?


UK government guidance in the Health and Safety Executive's booklet Blood-borne viruses in the workplace  states that:

People with a blood-borne virus should be able to work normally, unless they become ill and are no longer fit enough to do their job. If they do become ill, they should be treated in the same way as anyone else with a long-term illness.

The only way this advice will have changed since the Disability Discrimination Act is that the employer must have considered reasonable adjustments before dismissing you as a result of HIV-related illness.

If you are dismissed because you are unable to do the job, the employer must have sufficient evidence upon which to base that decision. This involves, preferably, both a report from the employee's doctor and an examination by a doctor on behalf of the employer.

If you are physically unable to carry out your contractual job, then the employer should consider the possibility of a move to different duties. The likelihood of there being suitable alternative employment will depend largely on the size of the firm involved. Furthermore, there is no duty for the employer to create alternative employment.

THT’s website has information on discrimination in the workplace and offers advice on what action you can take if you are sacked for illness. The THT employment advice service can also provide individual advice on these issues.

General advice services, such as citizens advice bureaux and community law centres, may also be able to help (although not all CABs have a specialist employment adviser). Seek legal advice if your employer is causing you difficulties in relation to time off for sickness.

anonymous (not verified)
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Speakers' Papers from
Working with HIV/ AIDS
a seminar
Wednesday 7th February, 2007

Attachment Size
HIV and AIDS: A Trade Union issue- Jennifer Mitchell< 81.5 KB
The DDA and HIV- Catherine Casserley< 404.5 KB
The DDA and HIV- Catherine Casserley< 109 KB<