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HIV-positive Kenyans likely to face discrimination at work

Kenyans who are HIV-positive are likely to experience discrimination at their workplace due to their status, a tribunal has said.

The HIV and Aids Tribunal says this means many Kenyans might be denied a promotion, demoted, or irregularly transferred due to their HIV status.

There are nearly 1.6 million Kenyans on antiretrovirals and nearly 500,000 others are HIV-positive but do not know their status, even as the World Aids Day is marked on Thursday.

The tribunal made the announcement on Wednesday after studying a number of cases reported by people living with HIV or perceived to have the virus, hence discriminated at work.

Others were tested for the virus without their consent, and for yet others, their status was disclosed to a third party, breaching their confidentiality and privacy.
Already, the tribunal has received nearly 800 such complaints but only about 600 have been handled.

The tribunal’s chief executive Anyumba Nyamwaya said discrimination on the basis of one’s HIV status in the country was on the rise and worrying, “especially among workers in the lower cadre, whose employers discriminate them due to their HIV status, breach of confidentiality, compulsory testing, unsafe practices and procedures which are unacceptable”.

RAISE AWARENESS

He added that the tribunal will raise awareness of the public on the consequences of violating the rights of persons living with or affected by HIV, so that they can take reasonable precautions to avoid such violations.

Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network executive director Allan Maleche said such awareness would support law implementers and the society in protecting and promoting rights of people living with HIV/Aids.

Some of the notable cases handled by the tribunal include that of a couple who had been married for 12 years and the claimant tested HIV-positive, and once their partner knew of their status, “they were supportive but later changed and started discriminating against the partner by refusing to eat together or share utensils with them”.

Another one was a case where an employee’s HIV status was shared by her employer to a health insurance company without their consent, ruled as a breach of confidentiality and privacy.

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