Life Living with hiv HIV Stigma Disclosing your HIV status to your employer and colleagues Talking to friends and family may be easier than disclosing your status to a boss or fellow colleagues, particularly if you are not close to them. So how should you tell them and do you even need to? Who should you tell? “I’ve always told any new employer, if they have to make adjustments for clinic visits they understand and legally they have to make reasonable allowances to accommodate your condition,” Denis, 48. Unless your HIV status affects the way you perform your job, you are actually under no legal obligation to disclose your status to your employer. Consider the reasons why you are telling your employer. Perhaps you need time off or flexibility to attend clinic appointments or if you have ill-health. People living with HIV are protected under the Equality Act 2010. makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against someone because they have HIV. Your work colleagues are not bound by the same rules of confidentiality as your employers. You can tell your fellow colleagues if you wish but perhaps consider that it might get back to a line manager, depending on the size of the organisation. If you want it to be confidential, say so before you tell them. Many people think they are excluded from careers in surgery and dentistry as they often include exposure-prone procedures. The law has now changed. If you are undetectable, on treatment and have regular bloods, then there is nothing stopping you from exploring a career in these fields. Read the full Public Health England report here. What should you tell your employer and colleagues? “Previously, I had never disclosed my status at work for fear of stigma but in my last two jobs I have disclosed it as a formal disability and should the conversation arise, then I have now decided to disclose openly to work colleagues to avoid any misunderstandings or someone saying something again not knowing my status,” Adrian, 38 If you decide to disclose your status to your line manager, tell them that you have something important to discuss with them and stress that it’s in the strictest confidence. Tell them in the simplest terms possible. Explain that this won’t impact your work. If you feel more comfortable, ask to have a member of HR in attendance or a colleague you feel particularly close to. Tell them that their support is important to you. Remember, there is no guarantee your disclosure will be kept in confidence, however the law is there to protect you from discrimination. When should you tell your employer and colleagues? “Disclosing, in any situation, is a choice, when you're at work, unless you're shagging your co-workers, it's less necessary. I told my work in case I injured myself and because I have always been very open about being positive. If you're unsure, go to an HR person first for advice,” Stephen, 31. As stated previously, Unless your HIV status affects the way you perform your job, you are actually under no legal obligation to disclose your status to your employer. You have no obligation to tell any one of your colleagues. Where should you tell your employer and colleagues? “If it feels appropriate and safe, don't feel afraid to. We're a "protected class" under the Equalities Act. The more open and honest conversations we have as guys living with HIV, the better informed our peers become," Dan, 44. Choose a private office where you won’t be interrupted or overlooked or, if you feel more comfortable, as to go ‘off site’ to discuss it. Where you tell your colleagues is up to you, but perhaps it’s best not to blurt it out after a few drinks at the office Christmas party. Why are you telling your employer and colleagues? “Work will contain the most mixed bag of people and therefore the most unpredictable. There's no need to pile on unneeded stress/worry about it, just take your pills (you don't have to explain what they're for) and carry on as you normally would,” Paul, 28. There are some advantages in telling your employer. For example, you may need time off or flexible hours to attend a clinic or if you need to look after your health. Also remember that your rights as a person living with HIV are protected by law. What if you feel like you can’t confide in my employer or colleagues? If you feel like you can’t talk your employer or that you need help: The Equality and Human Rights Commission The Equality Advisory Support Service Call THT Direct on 0808 802 1221.