Every year, World AIDS Day is held on 1 December. The purpose of World AIDS day is to raise awareness, remember those we have lost and continue to fight stigma
PCS Proud’s National Committee encourage all members to talk about HIV and AIDS, to raise awareness in workplaces and ensure that our PCS branches and employers are aware of the importance of talking about issues that affect workers so that barriers can be broken down and stigma can become a thing of the past.
It is estimated that 103,700 people in the UK are living with HIV. A lot of people think that HIV is an issue only for gay men but 45% of those diagnosed with HIV in 2014 were not men who have sex with men.
There are a lot of myths around HIV and AIDS. The Terence Higgins Trust, a leading charity in this field, has provided the following facts:
• HIV and AIDS are not the same thing
• HIV is not a death sentence
• There is no cure for HIV
• HIV cannot be passed by kissing or touch
• HIV is not only an issue for gay men
• A woman with HIV can have children without HIV.
You can find out more information about these facts, and other statistics, by going to www.tht.org.uk.
Many public sector employers will have a policy on how to handle situations when people tell their employer that they have HIV/AIDS but a policy is not good enough unless it is acted upon with the member of staff at the very centre of any discussions or decision making that takes place.
On 1 December 2015, we encourage members to wear red ribbons where possible. The Terence Higgins Trust is asking people tweet pictures of themselves wearing red ribbons using the hashtag #StopStigma.
PCS has uploaded TUC guidance on HIV and AIDS on to the document library which can be accessed by logging in to www.pcs.org.uk. A PCS Proud factsheet is also attached to this briefing.
Receiving a diagnosis of HIV can be an extremely scary time for individuals and their families. Therefore, it is important that PCS as a union continues to fight for a sympathetic employer that supports its staff. It is also important that all PCS reps treat members with HIV/AIDS in the sensitive and supportive way that they deserve. If you, or someone you know, has an issue in the workplace because of HIV/AIDS and you would like advice or information, please do not hesitate to contact PCS Proud or your Group LGBT Advisory Committee who can provide you with some advice and information.
In 2014, PCS Proud launched our LGBT Charter which provides basic principles that we continually campaign for in the workplace, in society and beyond. You can access our charter at www.pcsproud.org.uk/
HIV/AIDS and Work
Living with HIV/AIDS can be very challenging in many aspects. However, with the right support, the barriers that members face can be broken down.
This fact sheet is intended for branches and members who wish to gain understanding on how to support someone who has HIV or AIDS from a workplace perspective. The key thing is to remember that having HIV or AIDS does not make anyone less of a person. We encourage you to see the person, not the condition.
What are HIV and AIDS?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This weakens the body’s immune system and can progress to AIDS.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It means a collection of illnesses (‘syndrome’) caused by a virus people pick up (‘acquire’) that makes their immune system get weak (‘immune deficiency’).
You cannot get an AIDS diagnosis unless you are already HIV positive.
How is HIV spread?
A common belief is that HIV is only spread through sexual activity with someone who has HIV already. However, it can also be spread through the sharing of injecting equipment with someone who has HIV or even be passed from a HIV positive mother to their child during pregnancy, childbirth or breast-feeding.
Some occupations (such as healthcare) carry a higher risk due to accidental exposure to infected blood. Known cases have almost always been due to an accident with a needle/syringe.
Are many people HIV positive?
There are more than 107,000 people (2013 estimate) living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the UK, mostly of working age, of whom a quarter are unaware of their status.
Although most who live with HIV in the UK have normal life expectancy and lead fulfilling working lives, a large minority of people are ignorant of the facts. This means people living with HIV can face prejudice and discrimination in the workplace.
HIV and AIDS in the workplace
There are some key things that need to be in place for people who disclose that they have HIV or AIDS
• Complete confidentiality must be assured by the employer and employees
• A guarantee that colleagues will not be discriminated against on the grounds of perceived or actual HIV status.
• Clear guidelines on how to manage staff with HIV or AIDS, including provisions in sickness policies and sickness reporting procedures.
• Training opportunities for all staff to learn about HIV and AIDS, regardless of whether or not any employees have the conditions.
Disability provisions contained within the Equality Act 2010 mean that people living with HIV are considered disabled regardless of health status. This is from the moment of diagnosis.
It is illegal for employers to ask questions about HIV status during recruitment until after a job offer has been made (with some exceptions such as the Armed Forces). Whilst members of staff do not have to disclose their HIV status, it is important to recognise that disclosure will have to be made if the member of staff requires reasonable adjustments etc… By way of good practice, an employer should have a policy on who needs to be informed about the HIV status of individuals.
Social attitudes still need to change as many people with HIV still face many barriers. The Terence Higgins Trust (www.tht.org.uk) are asking people to stand and say #StopStigma this World AIDS Day.
World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day is held on 1 December. It is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV and show support for those who have HIV or AIDS. It is also a day to remember those who have died from the condition.
Information and advice
Information and advice can be obtained from PCS Proud by contacting Proud@pcs.org.uk. A booklet called “Tackling HIV Discrimination at Work” is available from https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/tacklingHIVdiscriminationwork2.pdf
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