UNAIDS Zero Discrimination Day

UNAIDS Zero Discrimination Day


March 1st is UNAIDS Zero Discrimination Day. It’s a day that recognises everyone has the right to be treated with respect and live free from discrimination. In the words of Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, “Discrimination doesn’t just hurt individuals, it hurts everyone, whereas welcoming and embracing diversity in all its forms brings benefits for all.”

At Nottingham Trent University I teach and research both employment and discrimination law. I’m particularly interested in discrimination against people with HIV and I believe that nobody should be treated unfairly at work for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with their ability to do their work. It wasn’t that long ago that it was thought acceptable by many to discriminate against their co-workers because of reasons like their sex, race or sexual orientation. Today any sensible person can recognise the absurdity of that discrimination, yet many people with HIV are routinely subjected to stigma and discrimination at work. This is often because the co-workers of people with HIV believe that HIV is fatal and that it can be easily transmitted. Both of these beliefs are mistaken. Provided HIV is diagnosed early people with HIV are able to live well into their 70s. In addition, research shows that it’s virtually impossible for individuals on effective HIV treatment to transmit the virus through sex and so you certainly can’t contract HIV from your co-workers on a day-to-day basis.

So this Zero Discrimination Day we should start to challenge these outdated viewpoints and discrimination. Instead it’s time to embrace diversity and recognise the valuable contribution that people with HIV can make both at work and to society as a whole.


By Peter McTigue

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