Is hybrid working beneficial for employee wellbeing?
October 9 2023Read more
World Aids Day is on 1st December 2023 and aims to bring awareness and support to people living with AIDS, remember those who have been lost, prompt the end of stigmatisation, and act to end the disease once and for all.
In the UK, more than 105,000 people are living with HIV. Globally, an estimated 38 million people live with the virus. More than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS-related illnesses over the past 40 years, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus which attacks the immune system - the body's defence against diseases. HIV stays in the body for life, but treatment can keep the virus under control and the immune system healthy. Without medication, people with HIV can develop AIDS.
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the most advanced stage of an HIV infection when the immune system can no longer fight infections. Someone with AIDS has both HIV and at least one of a specific list of 'AIDS-defining' diseases, which include tuberculosis, pneumonia and some types of cancer.
Individuals living with HIV and AIDS can be really difficult, especially for their mental health. If a colleague discloses to you that they have HIV it is extremely important to be sympathetic, supportive, and leave any judgments at the door.
If someone from your workplace decides to disclose their positive HIV status to you, remember that compassion is essential. Show that you care and that you are available to talk if they need it.
You may want to offer reasonable adjustments, such as flexible working hours so they can cope with the side effects of medication or attending hospital appointments. It is best to have an open and honest conversation with the employee to see what they need.
If an employee asks for reasonable adjustments, they may be able to bring a claim against you in an Employment Tribunal if you do not respond appropriately.
Fight discrimination and bias towards HIV. As an employer, you will need to make sure all your colleagues are treated fairly and equally. Treat your colleague the same way you treated them before they disclosed their HIV status to you.
You could also signpost to helpful support for them, for example, counselling support or Assistance Programme that may already be on offer at your workplace.
Providing diversity and equality training is a good way to ensure all employees understand what is expected of them. This should include specific information about HIV, how to support colleagues, and the importance of confidentiality.
There is no legal obligation to disclose HIV status in the workplace and if a colleague lets you know about their HIV status it is illegal if you breach their privacy and let other people know without their permission.
Ask if they wish to talk about it in private to show your support but do not pressure them.
You can show your support by wearing the red ribbon - the universal symbol of awareness and support for people living with HIV. You can help fundraising for the National AIDS Trust and spreading awareness of issues affecting people living with HIV are just some of the ways to get involved this World AIDS Day.
Talking to a counsellor is extremely important whilst dealing with HIV.
If your workplace offers an Employee Assistance Programme you could signpost the employee to the support.
Coping with HIV also can be daunting, but it is always best to speak to a counsellor, so you are able to alleviate mental health struggles.
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