The TUC is today demanding action from employers to introduce clear and effective HIV and AIDS policies in the workplace in the run up to World AIDS Day later this week.
With so much discrimination and prejudice surrounding HIV and AIDS, many individuals can be stigmatised, isolated and depressed, it says. This also means that many people are reluctant to disclose their HIV status to their employer for fear of being ostracised or sacked.
The latest figures from the Health Protection Agency show that 53,000 people are living with HIV in the UK. Most are of working age and improvements in drugs and therapies mean they are able to live and work for much longer than ever before.
The TUC is also launching new advice entitled Dealing with HIV and AIDS in the workplace on its work website www.worksmart.org.uk. It shows how to break down existing prejudices about people with HIV at work.
Frances O’Grady, deputy general secretary of the TUC, said: “With a year on year increase in the numbers of people with HIV, and with the majority of those at working age, there is no room for complacency among employers. That is why the TUC is demanding that an HIV and AIDS policy is adopted in all workplaces.”
Despite evidence of some employers doing well, the TUC said it has come across many cases where discrimination has occurred, and people have suffered prejudice and alienation.
In one case, where a store assistant working for a furniture retailer told his employer he was HIV-positive, he was moved to warehouse duties, and ordered to wear a boiler suit and surgical gloves.