Gay man forced to reveal HIV status at job center

A 22-year-old said he was humiliated when he was told by an advisor he would have to disclose his HIV to any staff he met

Gay man forced to reveal HIV status at job center
20 February 2013

A gay man has said he was ‘humiliated’ when he was forced to reveal his positive HIV status at a job center.

Jayce Carberry, 22, said staff in Maidstone, Kent, made him declare his condition in front of other jobseekers.

An advisor even said he would have to seek legal advice about what sort of contact Carberry could have with other staff.

‘His [the advisor’s] reply was I’ll have to speak to my legal team to see if we have to disclose your HIV status to any members of the staff you come into contact with in this building,’ he told the BBC.

‘Obviously I was a bit speechless.

‘For somebody to make a comment like that, it just takes you all the way back to the beginning and your self-esteem is shattered, you go back to feeling ashamed.

‘You’re subjected to that stigma and it’s really upsetting.’

Carberry told the advisor he was not disabled, but the advisor insisted he write his HIV status in his notes.

Equalities minister Helen Grant, Carberry’s member of parliament, said he had written to the job center and to Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, to raise her concerns.

‘It’s absolutely right that if people like Jayce do what they’ve done – go out, try to get work – that they should be given all the help and support that they need and deserve and at the same time, they must be treated with absolute dignity and respect,’ she said.

The Department for Work and Pensions, which speaks for job centers, said people do not officially have to declare medical conditions when applying for their jobseeker’s allowance.

Cary James, head of programs at British sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, said: ’30 years on from the beginning of the epidemic, HIV remains surrounded by a level of stigma unmatched by any other medical condition.

‘All over the country, our centers come into contact with people who have been routinely discriminated against, hounded from the workplace, barred from venues and services, disowned by their families, attacked and sometimes seriously hurt, all because they have contracted a virus that can be easily controlled with medication. This needs to change.’

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