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Telling employers about HIV

disclosure at work

You may be weighing up the pros and cons of telling your employer about your HIV diagnosis.

What should I consider if I want to tell my employer about my HIV status?

Disclosure may not be a good idea if you think your confidentiality might be breached or that you might experience stigma or discrimination.

On the other hand it can allow your employer to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ such as reducing your workload or allowing you extra time off work for medical appointments. You may also be able to access extra support at work.

People who are living with HIV are covered by the Equality Act – an anti-discrimination law - from the day they are diagnosed.


Will I be asked about my HIV status when I apply for a job?

Since the introduction of the Equality Act, employers are restricted on the questions they can ask about your health when applying for jobs and during the early stages of the recruitment process.

You shouldn’t be asked to fill in a questionnaire about your health before you have been offered a job.


What about after I am offered a job?

After an offer of a job has been made, an employer can make the offer conditional on their health requirements being met.

They can ask questions about your health if it is relevant to the job you have been offered.

If you were asked to complete a health questionnaire after being offered a job, and lied about your HIV status and your employer later found out, this would be called a breach of mutual trust and you could lose the job.

National AIDS Trust’s publication Advice for Job Applicants Living With HIV outlines the Equality Act 2010 and explains how it relates to people living with HIV.

If you choose to disclose your HIV status, it is worth knowing that people with HIV are protected under the Equality Act 2010. The Data Protection Act 1998 also states that records of your HIV status must be kept confidential.


Can I work in medicine if I am HIV positive?

A change in the law means that healthcare workers with HIV can now carry out ‘exposure prone procedures’ (EPPs).

These are generally procedures where there is a risk the healthcare worker’s blood could get into the body of a patient - such as during surgery, obstetrics, gynaecology, dentistry or midwifery.

Anyone applying for a role involving EPPs must have an HIV test. According to Public Health England’s guidance, if you are HIV positive you have to meet the following criteria to carry out EPPs:

  • you must either be on antiretroviral treatment and have a viral load below 200 copies/ml
  • or be an elite controller
  • and have viral load testing every three months
  • and be under the joint supervision of a consultant occupational physician and your treating physician
  • and be registered with the UKAP Occupational health Monitoring Register (UKAP-OHR).

 

To find out more please read Public Health England’s guidance: The Management of HIV Infected Healthcare Workers Who Perform Exposure Prone Procedures: Updated Guidance, January 2014.

You can also get free Online Advice if you register with myHIV. It's a free, confidential service for all myHIV members who are HIV positive and live in the UK.

 

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The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 25/2/2015 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 25/2/2018

Content Author: Kerri Virani

Current Owner: Kerri Virani

More information:

Disability rights, Gov.uk, November 2014

The Guide to Data Protection, Information Commissioner's Office

Data Protection Act, Employee Privacy Rights

Disabled people, Health and Safety Executive

Telling your boss, NHS Inform HIV and AIDS, November 2012

Working with HIV – a guide for UNISON safety reps, Unison – the public service union (2011)

Disclosure – do I have to tell my employer I’m HIV positive?, NAM aidsmap, October 2013

The management of HIV infected healthcare workers who perform exposure prone procedures: updated guidance, Public Health England, January 2014

Definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010, Gov.uk, November 2014

Equality Act 2010: What do I need to know? A summary guide to your rights, Government Equalities Office, July 2010

Advice for Job Applicants Living With HIV, National AIDS Trust, June 2012