Lynne Featherstone has called stigma surrounding people with HIV 'unfair and dangerous'.
In video message released to mark World Aids Day, which takes place each year on 1 December, the minister warned that people put themselves at risk if they dismiss HIV as a ‘gay disease’.
HIV does not discriminate
‘As Minister for Equalities I’ve seen a lot of examples of discrimination. But HIV does not discriminate. It doesn’t care whether you’re gay or straight, white or black, young or old,’ she said.
‘According to the most recent statistics, most British people with a newly diagnosed HIV infection are heterosexual. It also affects young people - in 2009 more than 700 people under the age of 24 were diagnosed with HIV.
‘In 21st century Britain there are more than 86,000 people living with HIV and they come from all backgrounds, all sexual orientations, all ages and all ethnic groups.’
Research published today shows that many HIV positive people are unwilling to disclose their status on pre-appointment health questionnaires for fear of being unfairly refused a job.
Since 1 October this year, the Equality Act has provided extra protection for people in this situation. It bans employers from asking candidates about their health until an offer of employment has been made, unless the questions are directly relevant to the person’s ability to do the job.