Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Chinese people with HIV hope to see end of health certificate discrimination

translated by Michael Woodhead
Chinese people with HIV can now look forward to a longer life thanks to antiviral medication but they face terrible discrimination in employment because they are barred from having a health certificate.
An article in Guangming Daily Health News this week describes the plight of one young women, Ting Ting, who lost her job as a restaurant manager when she tested positive for HIV. Ting Ting says that until her diagnosis she had enjoyed a good career in the restaurant business because of her hard work, determination and friendly character. She was promoted from waitress to restaurant manager and things looked good for her until she went to get the routine 'health certificate' for employment. As part of the process she had a HIV test which proved positive. She was refused a health certificate in line with government policy and immediately lost her job. She fell into despair and was contemplating suicide as she had no way to support herself. However, she received some support from a HIV support group and eventually pulled through her suicidal phase. However, she still faced the problem of employment, and for the last few years has survived through a series of casual labouring jobs. Due to government regulations she is not allowed to work in food or health industries that require a food industry health certificate'.
Ting Ting says she knows of some HIV positive people who have bought fake health certificates on the black market, but is not willing to do this.
A spokesman for the HIV support group says they do not oppose routine HIV tests done for employment purposes as this is one of the main ways in which HIV cases are detected in China. However, he says it is time to stop discriminating against people with HIV in employment. The medical advice is clear - there is no reason why people with HIV cannot work in industry sectors such as food and shops, the only barrier is the government regulations. And now he is hopeful that these discriminatory rules will be dropped in 2014. he points to the fact that people who are hepatitis virus carriers are now allowed to have a health certificate for employment. Since the transmission risks for hepatitis and HIV are the same  there is no logical reason why people with HIV should be denied health certificates, he says.
He understands that local governments will consider proposals this year to overturn the rules on HIV and health certificates, and she says this is long overdue. People with HIV should then be able to integrate with society.

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