HIV-Positive Employees in Malaysia Face Workplace Discrimination

December 21, 20168:29 am849 views

Discrimination at the workplace for HIV-positive employees in Malaysia made up for one third of the total 15 complaints documented in the HIV and Human Rights Mitigation Report 2015, released by the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC).

The Malaysian AIDS Council HIV and Human Rights Mitigation Report 2015 calls for a strengthened rights-based AIDS response and increased protection of rights for employees living with HIV.

Launched in conjunction with the Human Rights Day (observed on 10 December), the report highlights cases of discrimination against people living with HIV and key affected populations in various other sectors including healthcare, law enforcement and education.

“The vast majority of these cases stemmed from the perpetrators’ own lack of HIV knowledge and stigmatising personal beliefs and attitudes towards HIV,” said Bakhtiar Talhah, President of the MAC.

“The urgent need to address this knowledge gap, particularly in the workplace and business settings, cannot be overstated.”

“In addition, employers need to recognise the negative impact of discrimination, resulting from this gap in HIV knowledge on their business. Not only does HIV-based workplace discrimination cost businesses productivity and profitability due to loss of talent, but also calls into question the employer’s ability and commitment to protecting the rights of their employees,” he added.

There have been increasing number of  complaints regards workplace discrimination of HIV-positive employees in the last year, especially from sectors such as tourism, hospitality and entertainment industries. These involved termination, forced resignation, demotion and nonconsensual disclosure of HIV status by panel doctor.

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The latter in fact, contradicts the rights and responsibilities of doctors as prescribed by the Malaysian Medical Association HIV/AIDS Charter for Doctors.

In mitigating the impact of these discriminatory practices, MAC worked in partnership with the Department of Occupational Health and Safety (DOSH), Ministry of Human Resources. In most cases, the interventions were successful, with the complainants being retained in employment and the companies in question being sensitized to workplace management of HIV and AIDS.

Bakhtiar commented, “We urge businesses and corporations to take appropriate measures to ensure that the rights of all their employees are protected, one of which is to adopt the Code of Practice on Prevention and Management of HIV/AIDS at the Workplace provided by the DOSH.”

“Every single person living with HIV is entitled to their rights to health and to be free from discrimination or any forms of inhumane and degrading treatment. The protection of these basic human rights is the cornerstone of an effective AIDS response and a pre-requisite for ending AIDS.”

Bakhtiar encourages individuals who have faced discrimination at their workplace because of HIV to step forward and report those incidents to Malaysian AIDS Council.

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Image credit: Deccan Chronicle

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