Philippines: Discrimination Against Workers with HIV
(Manila) – Workers and employees in the Philippines living with HIV who suffer workplace discrimination often do not seek redress, Human Rights Watch said today. The Philippines has the fastest-growing HIV infection rate in the Asia-Pacific region.
Workplace discrimination in the Philippines includes refusal to hire, unlawful firing, and forced resignation of people with HIV. Some employers may also disregard or actively facilitate workplace harassment of employees who are HIV positive. In most of the discrimination cases that Human Rights Watch documented, employees with HIV did not file formal complaints, most frequently due to fear of being further exposed as HIV positive, which could prevent future employment.
“The Philippines faces a double whammy of increasing HIV infection and fears by workers with HIV that they can’t seek justice if they are discriminated against on the job,” said Carlos Conde, Philippines researcher. “The government needs to ensure that people living with HIV get better protection in their jobs and that the public gets more and better information on HIV.”
The number of new cases in the Philippines of HIV, which causes AIDS, jumped from only four a day in 2010 to 31 a day as of November 2017. From just 117 cases a decade ago, the total number of HIV cases as of November 2017 is 49,733, an overwhelming majority of which – 41,369, or 83 percent – were reported in the past five years alone.
Most new infections, up to 83 percent according to the Philippine government, occur among men or transgender women who have sex with men.
The increase prompted the government to declare a “national emergency” in August 2017. The epidemic is fueled by an environment hostile to policies and programs proven to help prevent HIV transmission. Government policies create obstacles to access to condoms and HIV testing and limit educational efforts on HIV prevention.