Don't let ignorance and prejudice about Aids affect your workplace.
World Aids Day, on December 1, is an opportunity for each of us to consider the impact of this terrible epidemic. As more and more people become infected with HIV, many employers in the UK are having to deal directly with HIV and Aids at work. Experience shows the wisdom of being prepared, so that your response to the problems that may arise meets your own standards, as well as accepted good practice and the law.
Many people with HIV and Aids have the support of their employers and their colleagues but others have found that revealing their HIV status can lead to rejection, even though they remain able to work. In spite of all that we know about HIV, some people still allow their ignorance, prejudice or fear to guide their actions towards employees with HIV or Aids.
This sort of reaction can be bad for business as well as for people living with the problem. It wastes time and money because it disrupts the normal working routine and relationships between colleagues and customers. A few simple steps can help a workplace to be better prepared.
Discourage discrimination against people with HIV or Aids. Let employees know that you will deal with all serious illness consistently.
Allow the workforce access to accurate information about HIV transmission.
Check that you can guarantee the confidentiality of information about your employees' health, not just about HIV and Aids.
Employers with more than 15 employees have a duty under the Disability Discrimination Act to consider reasonable adjustments to the working arrangements of people with long-term conditions such as Aids. Don't assume that these are beyond you: manageable but chronic conditions may require no more than time off for hospital appointments.
Information for employers is available from Health Promotion Units and the National Aids Trust, usually free of charge. Call 01225 404964 or 0171 814 6728 for more details.