What was your experience entering the workforce once you were diagnosed with HIV?

Brandan's Answer

When I was first diagnosed I thought that was it. I was disabled, I was going to die so who cared, and the only thing I cared about was getting high, going back to work was the furthest thing from my mind. Now, still alive 10 years later, I know that HIV is not a disability, it’s a disease that I happen to have. As long as I take care of myself I will have many, long healthy years ahead of me. With so many years ahead of me I decided I had to do something with myself and went back to work. I have a great job and I also volunteer whenever possible. When I went looking for a job I decided to be honest about my status. I told my possible employers about my criminal history, my drug addiction and sobriety, and that I am HIV positive. I bet many of these possible employers did not hire me based solely on my past and not my present, though I doubt they would ever admit to it. But I eventually was hired. I work for an amazing Mental Health agency. I told them that because I am HIV positive sometimes I get bad side-effects from my meds, not often, but still it can be an issue and I may have to call in sick. They were fine with that. I also told them that I catch colds more frequently and maybe someday in the future I may become very sick. They understood and refused to let that stand in the way of my employment. Happy days! I tell you this, because this is what worked for me. This may not work for you, you may not be as open about your status as I am. Do what works for you. Just remember that HIV is a disease, NOT a disability. Do not let being Positive stand in the way of your employment and, most important, your happiness.

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