A survey of 1,800 gay men living with HIV has explored their working experiences.
The National AIDS Trust research shows that the health effects of HIV are having little impact on gay men’s ability to work thanks to improvements in treatment, however “stigma surrounding HIV still creates barriers in the workplace.”
60% of respondents had disclosed their HIV status to someone at work – 93% of those surveyed were out at work.
Of those who did come out as HIV positive, 77% reported a generally positive reaction.
Although the key reason cited for non-disclosure was ‘no-need’, 53% feared poor treatment and 57% worried about breaches of confidentiality.
58% said being HIV positive had no impact on their working life.
One in ten people noted side effects from drugs had had some impact.
A fifth of respondents who had disclosed their HIV positive status at work experienced discrimination in their current or previous job.
The most common forms of discrimination were being treated differently or excluded and breaches of confidentiality.
84% of respondents were aware of their rights as gay men under the Employment Equality Regulations and two-thirds were aware of their rights under disability discrimination legalisation.
30% were unaware of their rights to reasonable adjustments.
The most common reasonable adjustments that were asked for included time off to go to clinic appointments and flexibility over working hours.
Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT, said:
“The overall picture for gay men with HIV at work is a positive one.
“It is important for people to realise that gay men with HIV can and do make valuable contributions to the UK workforce.
“Today, often it is not the health of people with HIV that affects their working ability but attitudes of employers or colleagues.
“There have been many high-profile and successful campaigns to tackle discrimination around sexual orientation in the workplace.
“This survey shows a significant proportion of gay men are affected by HIV-related discrimination, and yet little focus is given to this.
“More needs to be done both to end discrimination but also to make gay men with HIV aware of their rights and their entitlement to ask for reasonable adjustments. “Simple, proactive steps by employers to show they are understand HIV and would be supportive of disclosure will have a dramatic effect on the working lives of gay men with HIV.”