Sun, Dec 19, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Foreign HIV victims face a quiet struggle to work

STILL STIGMATIZED Although public attitudes toward AIDS have improved, employment discrimination leaves many vulnerable to being fired or not hired to begin with

By Wang Hsiao-wen  /  STAFF REPORTER

But foreign spouses still have to cope with other formidable problems facing every HIV patient in Taiwan. The most pressing problem is the denial of their right to work.

Because the AIDS Control Act does not ensure the right to work and doesn't stipulate any penalty for those who refuse to hire HIV-positive people, work discrimination has become a common practice here. Some state-run enterprises and government agencies require mandatory HIV blood tests which they justify as "precautionary measures."

Ivory Lin cited as examples of discrimination a Taipei police officer discharged in 2001, a health worker laid off in 2002, and an MRT driver who gave up his job under pressure.

Cases such as those highlight the need for government action to help protect the rights of those infected with AIDS, experts said.

"The government can redress the stigma that comes with AIDS," said Arthur Chen (陳宜民), the director of AIDS prevention and research center at the National Yang Ming University. "The government could introduce an anti-discrimination law."

A-chian's modest hope is to earn enough money to support herself. She waits on customers who come to enjoy a bowl of beef noodles, helps weaker patients in the halfway home, and sometimes allows herself the luxury of buying earrings in Gongguan night market. She lives quietly in Taipei City, quietly among us.

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