Second opinion - Working through HIV

People with HIV should know their employment rights and that they are well protected, says Deborah Jack

It is unfortunate fact that, even in today’s society, HIV stigma is rife.

Indeed, one person in three with the condition experiences HIV-related discrimination at some time.

Many people living with HIV are unaware of the legal protections available to them, including those relating to employment.

HIV is classed as a disability in the Equality Act 2010, and people who are HIV positive are protected from any discrimination and harassment arising from the condition.

This applies from the moment of diagnosis,

Being HIV positive does not affect your ability to work as a physiotherapist.

There is no risk of transmission between you and your colleagues or patients through any normal day-to-day activities.

While you may work in a healthcare setting, the work is not invasive, so you are under no legal obligation to disclose your status to your employer or patients.

However, if you are experiencing discriminatory behaviour or want your employer to make adjustments so you can manage your condition at work, disclosure is a prerequisite.

Fortunately, most people have positive disclosure experiences, and the information shared must remain strictly confidential unless you have given express permission for it to be passed on.

Under equality legislation, your employer is responsible for dealing effectively with any situations of bullying or discrimination.

Employers are also obliged to acknowledge all requests of reasonable adjustments to your working environment and job.

If a request is deemed unreasonable, the employer must provide written, substantiated reasons to explan why. If your employer is not taking incidents of harassment seriously, or is the one directly responsible, you can seek legal redress.

For advice, call the CSP enquiry handling unit on 020 7306 6666.

For further information about HIV and employment, visit: http://tinyurl.com/HIV-work-NAT or for more information on HIV, visit: www.hivaware.org.uk

Deborah Jack is chief executive of the National AIDS Trust  


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