HIV at Work

The impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the workplace gets bigger each year. That’s because people between the ages of 20-44 are most affected by HIV/AIDS—and they also make up over 50% of our nation’s 143 million workers.

Thanks to advances in antiretroviral therapy (ART), with the proper care and treatment, people living with HIV can live healthy lives and continue to contribute their skills and talents to America’s labor force.

If you are living with HIV, it’s important that you know how HIV/AIDS laws affect you at work. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of disability. The ADA covers businesses that employ 15 or more people and applies to employment decisions at all stages. U.S. courts have ruled that, even if you have asymptomatic HIV, you are protected under this law.
  • The mission of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is to save lives, prevent injuries, and protect the health of America's workers. To accomplish this, Federal and state governments work in partnership with the more than 100 million working men and women and their 6.5 million employers who are covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.
  • The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) applies to private-sector employers with 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the work site. If you are eligible, you can take leave for serious medical conditions or to provide care for an immediate family member with a serious medical condition, including HIV/AIDS. You are entitled to a total of 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave during any 12-month period.
  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) addresses some of the barriers to healthcare you may face if you are living with HIV. If you have group health coverage, HIPAA protects you from discriminatory treatment by your insurance provider. HIPAA also makes it easier for small groups (such as businesses with a small number of employees) to get and keep health insurance coverage, and gives people who lose (or leave) their group health coverage new options for buying individual coverage.
  • The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (COBRA) allows employees to continue their health insurance coverage at their own expense for a period of time after their employment ends. For most employees, ceasing work for health reasons, the period of time to which benefits may be extended ranges from 18 to 36 months.

For more information, see CDC’s HIV/AIDS in the Workplace and Workforce.

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Frequently Asked Questions

I am an HIV/AIDS Service Provider. What resources are available to help me support people living with HIV in securing employment or returning to the labor force?

Getting to Work is an online, multi-media training curriculum developed collaboratively by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to assist HIV service providers and housing providers to better understand how employment can add value for individuals, families and communities, and to provide strategies they can implement to incorporate employment into their approach.

Last revised: 01/12/2016