When do I need to disclose I have HIV?

Often you will have people telling you that you have a duty of care to inform people of your HIV status but legally there are only few situations where you need to disclose. Remember once you tell people you can’t take it back.

Before you disclose in your personal life, you should seriously consider, would your actions intentionally or negligently harm others? If so you should only warn others if you feel there are real dangers or risks. Disclosure is only needed when there is no other way to avoid the danger or harm to another person.

When I am legally required to disclose my status?

There a few situations where you may be asked your HIV status. Legally not to answer could see you in Court. HIV AIDS Legal Centre (HALC) has a great resource Disclosing Your HIV Status – A Guide to Some of the Legal Issues. It has useful advice that might help you decide when to disclose. At present if you are HIV positive you must disclose:

  • If you donate blood, semen, ova or any other body tissues, as it is illegal to donate blood, semen or ova if you are HIV positive
  • If you are applying for a permanent residency visa. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection requires you provide the results of an HIV test
  • Some life insurance or superannuation funds will refuse to cover you if you refuse to tell them your HIV status
  • If you work in healthcare, you are required to disclose if you are performing exposure-prone procedures
  • If you want to join the defence forces you will be required to undergo a HIV test.

Is it illegal to discriminate against me because I have HIV?

You do have legal rights, if you are HIV positive, that protect you from discrimination. In Australia Commonwealth law makes it illegal to:

  • Not employ someone because they are HIV positive
  • Refuse housing based on HIV status
  • Refuse medical or dental treatment because someone’s HIV status.

Each state has its own state anti-discrimination laws so it worth checking with your local community legal centre or HALC to see what other protection you have.

What can I do if I experience discrimination?

If you feel you have been treated unfairly and discriminated against or if you would like more information about the various laws covering HIV-positive people, contact your local AIDS Council check out their website to find your closet AIDS Council or you can contact the Anti-Discrimination/Equal Opportunity Authority.

For more useful information, check out:

Positive Life

HIV AIDS Legal Centre

Bobby Goldsmith Foundation