What you can expect
The vast majority of people living with HIV are in the prime of their working lives. This fact has critical implications for businesses and national economies, as well as for individual workers and their families. HIV and AIDS is a critical workplace issue for many reasons. Stigma and discrimination can threaten the fundamental rights of employees living with HIV. The loss of workers, skills and experience can increase the burden on the remaining workforce, lowering morale and reducing productivity.
What you can do
There are advantages if you do inform your section head or line manager that you are HIV positive. Everybody doesn’t need to know that you are positive, but informing your section head or line manager confidentially can ensure employer support. If you were to feel sick and can’t be productive on a specific day, your employer will at least know why this is happening. Your employer could support you in other ways by encouraging more effective coping mechanisms, providing support against occupational stressors and help reduce symptoms of occupation stress. You also need to find out from the HR manager as to whether your company or organisation has an HIV policy.
If you experience any unfair discrimination in the workplace contact the AIDS Law Project for further assistance. Their web address is www.alp.org.za