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Discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS in the workplace: Turkey context

Olca Surgevil (Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir, Turkey)
Evrim Mayaturk Akyol (Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir, Turkey)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 16 August 2011




In this study, the aim is to put emphasis on a specific discrimination area that is evaluated both as a disability and a diversity dimension. Human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) disease should be considered beyond the scope of health as a social issue. However, the main purpose of the study is to determine the influence of information levels on HIV/AIDS on attitudes and views towards people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) in work life. Therefore, the objective of this paper is to assess this influence by means of a pilot study. Additionally, one of the basic assumptions of the study is that career and identity developments of PLHIV will be positive as a result of the increase in knowledge amongst human resource (HR) managers and career counselors about HIV and PLHIV.


Disinformation about HIV/AIDS may cause stigmatization and discrimination. Thus, this paper seeks to indicate the effects and results of the discrimination and tries to create awareness. Consequently, discrimination against PLHIV in work life is emphasized in the study in parallel with the information levels related to the disease. Additionally, survey technique is used on the sample of HR employees and managers who are members of The Association of HR Managers (PERYON).


The paper finds that 50 percent of the respondents stated that it was right to request a HIV test whereas 36 percent of them declared that it was not right. The respondents' information level about the transmission of HIV was evaluated as medium or high. Respondents mostly think that HIV is not a punishment to people for their misbehaviors, and that sufferers should not be ashamed of themselves; PLHIV are not guilty and do not have marginal life styles. They also showed sensitivity towards the right for treatment and protection of the human rights of PLHIV. The majority of respondents stated that they could work in the same workplace with PLHIV and also that they did not associate HIV with homosexuals.

Research limitations/implications

As a limitation, there is a possibility that social desirability had an effect on some of the respondents' answers. Second, the respondents have never met PLHIV in their workplaces. Because of these limitations it was not possible to get answers regarding discriminative behaviors in the workplace towards PLHIV in terms of HR functions. Thus, it is suggested that a study on PLHIV or people who work with PLHIV should be conducted. Additionally, the study could be replicated with different and larger samples.


A contribution to increasing awareness and the cautions against discrimination towards HIV/AIDS is one of the values of this study. Another distinctive characteristic of this study is the investigation of this issue from the context of an emerging country, Turkey.



Surgevil, O. and Mayaturk Akyol, E. (2011), "Discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS in the workplace: Turkey context", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 30 No. 6, pp. 463-481.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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