HIV In The Workplace: What The Management Should Know

One day, one employee came to the company clinic and shared to the company doctor and company nurse a result of a laboratory test. It was the result of his HIV test from RITM and, yes, he is positive of HIV.

He told the clinic team that he was advised by his HIV specialist to avoid other medications that could possibly have an interaction with his antiretroviral drugs.

In situations like this where an employee discloses that he/she is HIV positive, it is important to remember that this is his/her personal decision to disclose his/her HIV status and will never be mandated by the company. But as leaders in office health, both healthcare professionals and the management have responsibilities.

When we say responsibilities, the management and the healthcare professionals act as the leaders in ensuring employee’s safety, health and productivity at work, and addressing the stigma that can result to discrimination and severe challenges at work.

How can you recognize discrimination in the workplace?

  • Co-workers refusing to work with the HIV employee
  • Co-workers and management harassing them
  • When an employer treats an HIV-positive employee less favourably than others,
  • Management refusing to hire, failing to promote, or firing a person affected by HIV.

When an employee is living with HIV and these kinds of negative behavior are present in the workplace, one’s emotional and mental health can be affected.

But hey!

People with HIV are still human beings who want to continue living and working to the fullest extent possible. Therefore, we should do something to end discrimination.

Often, discrimination is the result of lack of knowledge about the illness. This is what we need to address.

How do we manage employees living with HIV and AIDS?

  • We educate ourselves with the basics about HIV and AIDS,
  • With the information we have, we promote HIV/AIDS education in our workplace during orientation, one-on-one discussion with the employee, group talks, through health bulletin etc.
  • We provide them with reasonable workplace accommodations to enable a qualified applicant or employee with HIV to apply for jobs, perform the essential functions of the job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment:
    • flexible work schedules to accommodate care and treatment services,
    • additional rest breaks,
    • provision of special equipment at work, and
    • working from home.
  • We protect their rights to privacy and confidentiality by:
    • not telling others about their condition
    • not sharing medical information that the employee with HIV disclosed.
    • keeping the employee’s medical record in a safe storage that will not be exposed publicly.
  • We treat them with professionalism and respect, just like the other co-workers at work
    • be compassionate and empathetic
    • be supportive
    • be respectful

Takeaways about the HIV Workplace Policy

  • It is mandatory for all private workplace to have a policy on HIV and to implement  a workplace program.
  • All employees shall be provided with basic information about HIV and AIDS.
  • Employers shall create preventive strategies to prevent exposure to the said illness.
  • There shall be no discrimination of any form against workers on the basis of their status.
  • The access to their personal data relating to their HIV status shall be bound by the rules of confidentiality and shall be strictly limited to the medical staff or if legally required.
  • Employers must provide their employees with HIV reasonable accommodations to enable them to continue at their job.
  • Job applicants and employees shall not be asked to disclose any HIV-related information.
  • Compulsory HIV Testing is unlawful.
  • The management must encourage positive health-seeking behavior which include the Voluntary Confidential Counseling and Testing for HIV.
  • The management shall provide access to health services for sexually transmitted infection which includes HIV.

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