This report summarizes common themes and action strategies that emerged during a series of panel discussions on employment opportunities for people living with HIV who want or need to work. Organized by the United States Department of Labor, the Institute on HIV/AIDS and Employment Event highlighted several key issues for policymakers, advocates, and providers, including:
- Advances in treatment in recent years have made entering, re-entering, or remaining in the workforce an option for people living with HIV.
- Studies have shown that employment is a strong predictor of HIV status or suppressed viral loads.
- Preliminary findings indicate that going to work after not working was associated with a decrease in health risk behaviors for some.
- Disclosure may lead to negative outcomes, but may also be necessary in order to obtain legal protections.
- The desire and ability of HIV positive people to work must be weighed against the loss in disability benefits that may result.
- People living with HIV, their employers, and service providers do not always understand that people living with HIV are protected by disability laws.
- Challenges faced by people living with HIV/AIDS in the workplace vary greatly, but are often accommodated easily and at low or no cost.
The report also highlighted several federal programs designed to encourage HIV positive people's participation in the workforce, many of which received funding through President Obama's National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States, the nation's first-ever comprehensive plan for responding to HIV. Additional federal protections for people living with HIV include the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).