HIV Stigma- Know Your Legal Rights to Fight It

September 8, 2012

Let’s face the truth. HIV stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS is a common occurrence, even in the more developed countries in the world. Advocacy 2.0 recommends that if you are HIV positive, you need to know what legal protections you have when battling HIV stigma.
Your workplace rights. Potential employers are not allowed to ask for your HIV status during the interview stage. If you are qualified for the job and an offer is made, your employer may then ask about your status, but the offer cannot then be withdrawn. You can’t be fired because of your HIV status either. Exceptions to this case are rare, so if it happens to you, that’s discrimination.
Your health and medical rights. You do not need to declare your HIV status initially when seeking medical care. If you are HIV positive, health care professionals cannot refuse to treat you. Everyone, regardless of their HIV status, deserves equal treatment and medical attention, including health insurance.

Your housing rights. You have legal protections if your landlord harasses or evicts you because you are HIV positive. They also cannot deny a housing application because of your status. So long as you follow the tenant agreement and pay your rent on time, those living with HIV are legally equal to all other tenants.

While some of these rights apply everywhere, protection laws vary from country to country, and Advocacy 2.0 recommends that you check with an AIDS counsellor or local attorney to learn about your local laws. You can also find more valuable resources from our advocates and through coverage of the Advocacy2.0 Summit.
Being HIV positive does not mean you are an easy target. With information comes power to educate people around you, and to protect yourself. What HIV protection laws exist near you? What can be improved? Let us know in a comment or tweet!
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