Around the world, what types of discrimination do workers with AIDS face?

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It would be very hard to identify the way in which different people from different countries (along with their unique, cultural idiosyncrasies), would treat people who are identified as HIV positive, or as AIDS patients.

The question does not consider that we cannot just generalize how "one country" would "feel" about this or that because individual judgement has nothing to do with one's place of origin. Yet, it has everything to do with the individual's upbringing and personal sense of community. 

Discrimination of HIV/AIDS patients in the workplace, in general, can come from supervisory personnel in the following forms as reported by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the HIPPA law:

1. In a refusal to employ the individual based uniquely on the HIV status.

2. In a refusal to provide necessary accommodations for the individual's unique medical needs. For example, allotting time for prescription courses, or limiting the employee's physical work or stress level.

3. In firing the employee as a result of the medical condition, or in spreading medical information about the employee. 

4. In refusing to improve the environment of the employee to better his condition at work.

5. In the refusal of medical care or medical services (insurance, etc).

Typically, the average individual would not share his or her medical information with anybody EXCEPT the employer, or potential employer, because only the employer can provide what the patient needs to perform at his or her full potential. 

However, if the HIV/AIDS patient chooses to openly disclose this otherwise personal information, then the patient must understand the risks that come with such disclosure. Even with our modern understanding of the condition, we cannot expect that everybody will react to it in the same manner. Although the law is there to safeguard and protect the rights of HIV/AIDS patients, there is nothing that can physically control the behavior of those around them at any given point in time. In the end, is best to fight your personal battles behind closed doors.  

However, a plausible scenario in which a co-worker somehow finds out the HIV-positive status of another co-worker, may result in the typical discrimination that occurs with most HIV/AIDS patients as a result of ignorance or misinformation such as:

1. Unwillingness to share common areas with the HIV patient (bathrooms, kitchen, etc).

2. Spreading rumors or discussing the patient's condition.

3. Refusing social interaction with the patient.

4. Creating doubt and false assumptions about the patient among other employees. 

The universal consensus that we could reach is that a person whose HIV/AIDS status is open and confirmed must be somebody who is openly undergoing treatment. Other than that, the first thing that is suggested to EVERY individual is to keep their medical and their personal information at home. The workplace is not the place to vent out one's medical conditions. However, if an HIV/AIDS patient chooses to share information about the condition in order to educate others, there will still be a margin of risk that someone will still not "get it". The choice is entirely up to the patient, and comes with a reasonable amount of possibilities as well as consequences. 

However, the law is there to protect and safeguard their rights at all times under the Americans with Disabilities Act which is quite powerful.