Stigma Drives Workplace Discrimination Against Workers Living With HIV

Cardell says her termination is a case of deliberate workplace discrimination based on her HIV-positive status. Such discrimination is a pervasive issue for the more than 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States, occurring since the earliest days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, says Catherine Hanssens, executive director of the Center for HIV Law and Policy.Like Cardell, people who are HIV-positive from “every imaginable kind of job”—including health care, food service, and law enforcement—have experienced workplace discrimination in one form or another, Hanssens says.

For instance, recently the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit against Maxim Healthcare Services, a multi-state health-care and wellness service agency, on behalf of an HIV-positive man identified as John Doe. According to the EEOC, Maxim Healthcare violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) when it refused to hire Doe to sit with patients at a Pittsburgh Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility because of his HIV status.

“People have been worried about their place of employment finding out that they’re positive because people are fired, people are not hired, people are stigmatized in the workplace, their status is shared inappropriately,” said Cardell. The John Doe case is “sadly more common than it is uncommon.”

Read more of my RH Reality Check article here.

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