The Center for HIV Law and Policy today released a basic guide on the legal and human rights protections for people living with HIV and AIDS in the United States. The guide, Employment Rights of People Living with HIV/AIDS: A Primer, outlines the state and federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of HIV, the elements of a case challenging HIV discrimination, additional protections against gender and race-based employment discrimination, and international human rights laws that apply to employment and the rights of people with HIV/AIDS to work and equal job opportunities.
The primer also addresses the different requirements for HIV-related employment discrimination cases produced by the Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments Act that went into effect last year. The primer can be accessed and downloaded here.
Despite the fact that most people with HIV who receive regular health care remain healthy for years, and the fact that HIV is transmitted through limited and established routes (i.e., sex, perinatally, and syringe-sharing), HIV-related employment discrimination remains a significant problem. Not only do some federal agencies, such as the military, continue to exclude people with HIV, but surveys show that many Americans remain unwilling to work in proximity to people who are HIV positive. In the Center for HIV Law and Policy's 2009 survey of individuals with HIV and their service providers in the South, over a third of the 377 respondents identified employment discrimination as an issue they had encountered over the previous year. (A report on CHLP's Southern Legal Needs survey will be released in late Fall, 2010.)
The primer was prepared in response to this survey, and to the continued confirmation that employment access is a continuing concern for people who are HIV positive. The primer is intended to arm advocates with the basic understanding necessary to assess and undertake a case on behalf of individuals who experience unfair treatment in the workplace because they are living with HIV. It was made possible through a grant from the Levi Strauss Foundation.