HIV/AIDS, Obesity, and Stigma: A New Era for Non-Discrimination Law?

Studies in Law, Politics, and Society

ISBN: 978-1-78756-208-0, eISBN: 978-1-78756-207-3

ISSN: 1059-4337

Publication date: 19 July 2018


The aim of this paper was to explore commonalities between HIV/AIDS-related conditions, obesity and other disabling impairments as health-related barriers that limit opportunity and advancement in society and the workplace. Taking a number of examples from original fieldwork and European Union (EU) and United Kingdom (UK) law, we posited that ‘disability discrimination’ under EU law remains an indefinite, imprecise and incomplete area that requires greater alignment with the social model of disability. The principle attributes of societal discrimination towards people living with HIV and obese people are that these conditions are perceived to be primarily or in some instances, solely caused by controllable factors related often to behaviours and lifestyle choices. Strong beliefs that these conditions are controllable are perceived as a justification and in some instances encouragement for the creation of stigma and discriminative behaviours that are unjust and uninformed. The structure of the paper is as follows. First, this paper postulated how and why stigma exists towards both individuals with disabilities and also obese individuals and people living with HIV; second, reviewed the legal framework on disability discrimination in both UK and EU courts that are directly relevant to the concepts of obesity and HIV-AIDS; third, presented critical thoughts as to the extent to which emerging decisions of the Court of Justice of the EU concerning obesity and HIV-AIDS accord with the social model of disability and fourth, offered an analysis of the implications of the UK and European framework and suggested possible interventions in this area.



McTigue, P., Flint, S.W. and Snook, J. (2018), "HIV/AIDS, Obesity, and Stigma: A New Era for Non-Discrimination Law?", Sarat, A. (Ed.) Studies in Law, Politics, and Society (Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol. 76), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 51-74.



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