Considering Going Back to Work When You're HIV Positive
December 10, 2014
In the US, people with disabilities, including HIV, are protected from job discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In other words, your HIV status is confidential. You do not have to disclose your status to a prospective or present employer. If you have not had any HIV-related symptoms or illnesses and are not on medications that are affecting your job performance, there is probably no need to tell them. It is important to note that each country has its own laws about HIV status and employment. In some places, being HIV+ can disqualify a job candidate.
Here are some potential trouble spots:
While it is illegal for interviewers to ask questions about your medical conditions, some interviews still do. In this case, reply simply that there is no barrier to your doing the whole job (e.g., "I can assure you that I can perform all the duties of this job.").
Once you find a job, it is important to remember that you were hired for your skills. Whatever you believe about disclosing your HIV status at work, keep the focus on your performance. If you want to disclose at work, you may consider waiting for a few months so that you have a chance to get to know your co-workers and get a sense of how they might respond to the news that you are living with HIV.
If you disclose to one co-worker, it is important to be prepared for all co-workers to know your status. Also, although supervisors, managers, human resources (HR) staff, and company officers in charge of employee relations may be required by law to keep your diagnosis private if you tell them, not everyone follows the laws and obeys the rules.
In the US, there are no automatic triggers for disclosing your HIV status at work. You are not required to disclose at work, even if:
If you are thinking about going back to work, or returning to a full-time job after a period of part-time employment, it is important to talk with your health care provider so that you have the best chance of staying healthy during your work transition. A change in jobs or employment status is considered a major life stressor, even when the new job is a totally positive, wonderful thing. Therefore, it is important to prepare yourself by planning ahead, making sure you have adequate support, and remembering that it is okay to go slowly and be gentle with yourself.
This article was provided by The Well Project. Visit The Well Project's Web site to learn more about their resources and initiatives for women living with HIV. The Well Project shares its content with TheBody.com to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from TheBody.com or the advertisers on this site. No advertiser on this site has any editorial input into The Well Project's content.
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