EDITORIAL: Firms should be humane

Massive public awareness campaigns in recent years have significantly cut the levels of stigma related to HIV/Aids in Kenya, including in the traditionally hostile spaces like homes and communities.

Recent advances in disease control and treatment have also made it possible for persons infected with the virus to live relatively healthy lives longer.

It is therefore inconceivable that cases of discrimination against HIV-positive people at the workplace are on the rise in the country.

The HIV and Aids Tribunal, which handles complaints about rights abuses related to the disease, says that many workers are denied promotions and salary increases, irregularly transferred or even get demoted due to their health status.

The tribunal, sworn into office in 2011, has since received 800 complaints, of which 600 have been heard.

Some of the employers involved in these cases may be having legitimate concerns about productivity.

But the employment law requires that such cases be handled as humanely as possible while respecting one’s right to privacy and confidentiality of his or her HIV status.

The more responsible employers have avoided conflicts or falling afoul of the law altogether by putting in place workplace policies that support, rather than discriminate against, their HIV-positive staff.

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