Sherr predicts Aids actions rise

Cases of discrimination taken out by victims of HIV and Aids against employers are set to increase, according to Professor Avrom Sherr of London University's Institute of advanced legal studies.

Sherr, who is coordinating an EU-sponsored survey into HIV and Aids discrimination, said that there had been few HIV-related discrimination cases so far but this was about to change.

He said new combination drug therapy meant that people would be able to push aside the effects of the illness and so would want to stay in employment. “I think we will see many more cases,” he said.

Sherr was speaking at the launch of the National Aids Trust Employers' Initiative (NAT), designed to help organisations adopt good practice in the recruitment and employment of people with HIV.

The initiative will offer advice, practical help and information to employers who want to develop their policies to avoid HIV discrimination.

Derek Bodell, director of NAT, said: “This initiative will give practical help to employers who wish to review their recruitment and employment policies on HIV in light of the Disability Discrimination Act and brings forward the prospect of people with HIV being able to return to employment because of new drug treatments.”

Included in the information available from NAT is a paper on the Disability Discrimination Act prepared by Ruth Harvey, a partner at Sheridans.

As yet, Sheridans is the only firm signed up to NAT's statement of employment principles, which opposes HIV employment screening and promotes personnel policies which do not discriminate against HIV.

The paper says that although HIV infection is included in the definition of disability within the Act, protection only extends this to people with Aids or a symptomatic HIV infection.

It also criticises the Act for the lack of protection it offers to victims of the perception of disability claiming it “does not tackle the problem of the traditional association between gay men and HIV infection”.