HIV & Discrimination


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This article seeks to give the reader an understanding of the different ways in which people may be discriminated against when found to be HIV positive. It achieves this by giving examples of what HIV discrimination is and why it might take place along with what you can do if you are discriminated against in the workplace.

What is HIV discrimination?

HIV discrimination is the exclusion or restriction of a person due to the belief that they are HIV positive, this is irrespective of whether or not they actually have HIV. This discrimination may occur at a social, cultural or legal level. The person who is though to have the disease may then be unfairly ostracised. This could therefore potentially act as a violation of their human rights.

Why does HIV discrimination occur?

Discrimination against those who are HIV positive can stem from many different areas. Some of the main reasons for this happening are:

  • Fear of being infected with a deadly disease.
  • Association of HIV with groups of people that are already discriminated against (e.g. homosexuals, injecting drug users, prostitutes and people of African descent).
  • Association of HIV with actions considered to be immoral (e.g. sexual promiscuity, homosexual sex or drug use).
  • The person has only caught HIV due to irresponsibility on their part.

These beliefs, chiefly based on ignorance of how HIV is transmitted can lead to discrimination in various settings. In many instances this discrimination may also be illegal.

HIV discrimination at work

Discrimination in the workplace, whilst seeking employment or in other business settings is illegal in the UK after the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 (DDA). If you feel that you have been unfairly discriminated against, it is recommended to seek legal advice from a solicitor to determine what the different options are in your situation. It is also helpful to document the different acts of discrimination taken against you if you wish to seek legal action in the future.


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