Thailand’s Labour Ministry has called out the country’s businesses who make it compulsory for job seekers to get tested for HIV/Aids, calling the practice discriminatory.
In a statement released on World Aids Day, which falls on December 1, the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare (DPWL) said up to 30% of people living with HIV/Aids have reported experiencing discrimination by employers due to their status. This discrimination occurs both during the recruitment process and while being employed.
According to the UK-based charity Avert, Thailand has one of the highest HIV rates in Asia and the Pacific. There are about 470,000 HIV-positive people in Thailand, according to the Foundation for Aids Rights (FAR).
DLPW director-general Apinya Sujittanan said the announcement urges employers to treat job applicants fairly regardless of their HIV/Aids status. It also hopes to educate employees about the virus and how to prevent transmission, and offer assistance to employees with HIV/Aids to ensure they can access the necessary medical care through the government’s social security programme.
“There has been tremendous advances in medical technology for HIV/Aids patients over the past several years,” he said. “If treated properly, employees [with HIV/Aids] can work alongside healthy employees without any problem.”
Under Thai law, individuals with HIV/Aids have equal rights to employment.
FAR director Supattra Nakapew said the organisation has received numerous complaints about workplace discrimination, including someone who claimed that he was denied a job in the police force due to his HIV+ status.
The complainant has also raised the issue with the National Human Rights commission, and the Royal Thai Police office is investigating the matter, said FAR.