Reveal my HIV-status for job in UK?

Question

Hi, I recently got a job as prep-chef. My first meeting with my boss, he wanted me to answer a medical questionnaire. The last question was, YES or NO if I have HIV.

I decided to give the answer NO.

The truth is that I have HIV but with un detective virus load and I am on medications.

This is a work in U.K.

I know that I can't transmit my virus to colleagues and customers. That's why I answered NO.

My questions are:

Can my employer ask me for HIV test? Is my answer against the law? What do you think? should I tell my employer the truth?

Best regards,

Answer

Hi there - Thank you for writing in with a question that no doubt will have polarizing points of view from both a legal and ethical perspective.

It sounds like you are very well aware of what it means to be medically undetectable at this stage, which is another way of describing "untransmittable." Your decision in grounded in the scientific research and data that proves you cannot transmit HIV when undetectable for six months or longer.

But what about the legal issues at hand? Under the UK Equality Act, employers are restricted on the questions they can ask about your health when applying for jobs and during the early stages of the recruitment process. It was not legal for your employer to ask about you about your HIV status prior to employment.

However, if you were asked to complete a health questionnaire AFTER being offered a job, and lied about your HIV status and your employer later found out, this would be called a breach of mutual trust and you could lose the job.

It seems this may put you in a legally murky situation, one that can be much better addressed through the free legal services offered by the Terrance Higgins Trust. I'd encourage you to contact them and find out the best way to handle this.

If there is a way for you to be open and transparent, without being put in financial or professional jeopardy, then I would hope you would consider that option. Keeping secrets at work about any issue can be mentally draining at best, physically detrimental at worst. But if the legal advisors encourage you to keep it a secret then I'd encourage you to find ways to gain support, connection, and tools for self-care going forward.