HIV and the law

Know the law regarding disclosure

Disclosure to sexual partners

While disclosing to sexual partners is advisable where possible, you do not by law have to tell your partner or someone you have sex with that you have HIV as long as you take appropriate precautions. These precautions may differ due to personal circumstances, but they may include taking HIV medication regularly to ensure you have an undetectable viral load or using condoms and lubricant with you partners. If the condom breaks or comes off, then it is advisable to disclose your HIV status promptly and suggest that the other person accesses PEP.

If you do not disclose your status and do not take precautions, then you could be charged with a criminal offence if HIV is transmitted to your sexual partner. Transmission must take place for the law to have been broken in England and Wales. It is not illegal to have sex without disclosing if transmission does not take place.

Disclosure and work

Under the Equality Act 2010 it is unlawful to discriminate against anyone for their HIV status.

Employers are not allowed to ask whether you have HIV at the beginning of any recruitment process. There are some occasions when they can ask you once you have been offered the job. It is illegal for an employer to rescind their offer of employment if you disclose your status.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. For example, the army does not take applications from people who are HIV positive, but this is the same for many other long-term health conditions. Some health-care professionals must be aware of their HIV status, although these are usually roles where there could be blood on tissue contact, such as midwifery or surgery.

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