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HIV still a major obstacle to employment security

A new ILO-backed report launched by the Global Network of People living with HIV at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC. shows that HIV-related stigma and discrimination is still widespread in the world of work.

News | 24 July 2012
WASHINGTON, DC (ILO News) – Over 30 million people living with HIV old enough to work still face a high level of discrimination preventing or limiting their access to jobs, claims a new report entitled "Evidence Brief on Stigma and Discrimination at Work: Findings from the PLHIV Stigma Index", issued by the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+).

The study that was developed with support of the ILO provides a global snapshot of HIV-related stigma and discrimination impacting work.

Discriminatory practices against people living with HIV include refusing them entry to the labour market or forcing them to change the job they do. They can also be denied promotion, and even be fired or refused access to adult education and training.

The report is based on results from the “PLHIV Stigma Index” as implemented by people living with HIV from nine countries in four regions of the world.

It shows for example that in Nigeria, up to 45 per cent of respondents to the survey had lost their jobs or their source of income during the previous 12 months as a result of their HIV status. Also in Nigeria, up to 27 per cent were refused the opportunity to work.

Up to 28 per cent of respondents in Kenya stated that the nature of their work had been changed or that they had been refused promotion due to their HIV status.

The report also mentions the persistence of discriminatory attitudes from employers and co-workers. Up to 54 per cent in Malaysia reported discriminatory reactions from employers once they became aware of the respondents’ HIV status while also 54 per cent reported discriminatory reaction from co-workers once they learned of their colleagues’ HIV status.

Implementing the ILO Recommendation

“This report illustrates the scale of HIV-related stigma and discrimination at work despite progress that has been made. It also highlights its serious social and economic consequences. More action needs to be taken to protect rights at work for people living with HIV”, says Alice Ouedraogo, Head of the ILO Programme on HIV/AIDS. “One way of improving the situation is for more countries to implement the ILO Recommendation on HIV and AIDS and the World of Work, 2010 (No. 200) which is the first international human rights instrument to focus specifically on HIV in the world of work”, she adds.

The Recommendation provides that there should be no discrimination or stigmatisation of workers, particularly job applicants and job seekers in either access to employment or occupation; terms and conditions of work; or, the right to remain in employment.

“Most people living with HIV are able and willing to work. Denying their right to work delivers no advantage. Instead it undermines states ‘social capital, while causing individuals untold harm and destabilising families, communities, business and national economies”, concludes the GNP+ report.

For more information, during the 19th International AIDS conference in Washington, please contact: Josée Laporte, Technical Specialist, ILO Programme on HIV/AIDS and the world of work, +41 78 882 6118