Managing HIV at work

There are a number of steps you can take to help manage your HIV at work.

Organise your day. Adherence to your HIV treatment is the most important aspect of managing your HIV and is key to staying healthy. Keeping your daily treatment regimen top of your agenda should be a priority, no matter how great you feel. Set reminders, schedule fixed treatment breaks, or use a treatment app. Tools such as THT’s ‘My medication and reminders’, ‘My appointments’ and the ‘MyHIV’ app can help you keep on top of your treatment regimen and regular check-ups. If you have other health problems, this can make organising your days more complicated, so remember to take any other requirements into account as well.

Take your treatment outside working hours. This avoids having to think about how to manage taking your HIV treatment at work, if this is a concern. It may not always be possible, especially if you do shift work. And some anti-HIV drugs need to be taken with food, so you may have to fit in a snack or a meal as well. But many people only take their anti-HIV drugs once a day, and it often makes good sense to do this first thing in the morning or before you go to bed.

Store your treatment. If you do need to take your treatment at work, having a supply of your medication stored in a secure and private place at work removes the risk of you forgetting to bring it from home. (Make sure it’s a suitable place for keeping drugs – they should be stored in a cool, dry place.) Keep track of when you need to top up your work supply of medication. You may find that transferring your daily regimen into a small bag or wallet makes it easier to take your treatment discreetly.

Plan your treatment. If you are due to start treatment for the first time or are considering changing your treatment, you may want to schedule this around having some time off work. Taking annual leave around this time will help you to deal with any treatment side-effects, if you do experience any. However, with many anti-HIV drugs used nowadays, many people have no or only minimal side-effects and find having time off is unnecessary. Talk to your doctor about limiting the impact of treatment on your work. If you are having problems with persistent side-effects, talk to your health care team about managing this, or the possibility of changing your treatment (see Side-effects).

Think about how to manage medical appointments. For many people, HIV care will involve a few appointments a year, and it may not be difficult for you to manage fitting these into your working life. (You’re likely to have more appointments if you are recently diagnosed, or if you have other health problems.) Find out  what your employer’s arrangements are for time off for medical appointments (employers aren’t legally obliged to give you paid time off for these, but many do – check your employment contract to see what you are entitled to). Otherwise, you may have to take annual leave, make the time up at another time (your employer may allow flexible working) or see if you can make appointments for outside your working hours. If you have disclosed to your employer, you may be entitled to take time off for medical appointments as they may be considered to be connected to a disability. You may need to seek advice about this.  You can also check on the opening times for your clinic – some are open longer hours than others. If you have a choice of clinic, it may be worth choosing one that has more convenient opening hours if time off is a problem. 

Talk about your needs. If you have disclosed to your employer (see Disclosure: Do I have to tell my employer I’m HIV positive?), you can work together to make adjustments to the way you work. This can help you to deal with medical appointments, changes to your treatment or any treatment side-effects. You might consider requesting flexible working or reducing your hours, even temporarily, if that’s possible. If you don’t want to disclose, your GP or HIV doctor can write a letter explaining that you have a long-term condition and explaining any requirements you have. (It can also confirm your fitness to work.)

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.
Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap
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