World AIDS Day: HIV discrimination in the workplace

Every year, World AIDS Day is commemorated on 1 December. It’s a chance for people to come together to remember people who have died from an AIDS-related illness and to show support for people living with HIV.

It’s estimated that there are 38.4 million people living with HIV globally, with just over 106,000 in the UK.

HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was. Treatments are highly effective, and people living with HIV can live a long, happy and healthy life. Once on effective treatment, HIV cannot be transmitted to partners.

Despite the advances in treatment, people living with HIV unfortunately still experience stigma and discrimination. According to the Terrence Higgins Trust, three quarters of people living with HIV have experienced discrimination because of their HIV status.

Discrimination is never okay – including in the workplace. If you’re being discriminated against because of your HIV status, we’ve outlined four points to help you understand your employment rights and where to find further support.

What protections against discrimination do I have if I have HIV?


If you are living with HIV, you are protected against discrimination under the Equality Act (2010). This legislation protects people being discriminated of because of their protected characteristics.

This includes:

  • age
  • gender reassignment
  • being married or in a civil partnership
  • being pregnant or on maternity leave
  • disability
  • race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

For the purposes of this legislation, all people diagnosed with HIV are considered to be ‘disabled’ regardless of their health status.

Do I need to disclose my HIV status to my employer?


For most people, there is no requirement for you to disclose your HIV status to your employer.

It’s worth thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of sharing your status with your employer. Aidsmap has more information.

What should I do if I’m being discriminated against at work because of my HIV status?


If you’re being discriminated against because of your HIV status, in the first instance you should try and approach your employer to sort out the problem informally.

If this approach doesn’t help, or you feel you aren’t able to approach your employer in this way, you can talk to Acas, Citizens Advice, or a trade union representative for support.

Citizens Advice has a step by step guide with more information.

Facing discrimination at work can be a distressing experience. Make sure you take care of your wellbeing and reach out for mental health support if you need it.

Where can I get support if I’m being discriminated against at work because of my HIV status?

Organisations that can help or provide further information include:

Check if you’re eligible for employment support from Work Well.