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Why hide it?
Jun 9, 1997

Question: Are there any benefits to keeping the condition a secret, or is it just better to be up front about it?

Response from Ms. Breuer

Disclosure is not a simple issue for many people. In some workplaces, the stigma against AIDS thrives unabated. Whether or not to disclose at work is a question that involves weighing the pro's and the con's. Here are some of them:

Pro's:

no one at work will be able to say anymore that they don't know anyone who's HIV positive for many people, not talking about their HIV infection is like not talking about an elephant in the conference room; they feel very relieved when it's just out there although disclosing the diagnosis is not necessary for negotiating a reasonable accommodation, it can be part of putting the employer on notice that the employee has a covered disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act in some workplaces, a supportive core of people provides life-sustaining support to a person facing a life-threatening illness

Con's:

this may be 1997, but the workplace still has many people who shun and discriminate against anyone who is ill, regardless of diagnosis in some workplaces, outdated or even illegal ideas about HIV can make people behave in ways that make the diagnosed person's life miserable at work workplace discrimination based on HIV status is illegal, but it still happens each of us feels differently about privacy; some people are fine with, having others know their medical status, and others feel violated when that information becomes common knowledge

Probably the most important question a person with HIV can ask him/herself before disclosing HIV status at work is, "Why am I doing this? What are my goals?" That's a good place to begin deciding whether the pro's outweigh the con's.

- Nancy Breuer



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