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

When I was diagnosed back in 1995, I was terrified of people finding out that I was HIV positive. Although HIV stigma still exists, back then NO ONE in my hometown was talking about HIV; the only conversations I had were with my doctor. It was really difficult to keep hiding my truth, especially when I had to take my meds. I often did not take them at work because they made me feel sick causing me to miss numerous daily dosages. Needless to say, I did not tell anyone I had HIV. Moving forward into the middle 2000’s I had the luck of working at agencies where my HIV status was not of concern. I still did not tell everyone, but I shared with supervisors and co-workers who became my friends. I had been experiencing difficulties with my medications and I did not want to keep lying when people asked me what was wrong. I would recommend to people newly diagnosed with HIV to use your best judgement. If HIV is not affecting your ability to do your job, then I do not think you need to share your status. Many people live with so called “hidden” chronic illnesses and never share this information with employers or co-workers. However, if you do share, make sure you know your rights. It is illegal for people living with HIV to be discriminated against or fired based solely upon their status. Lambda Legal is a great resource for information concerning legal rights concerning HIV – www.lambdalegal.org.


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