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News and Views HIV/Aids and Discrimination in the Workplace: The Cook and the Surgeon Living with HIV

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This article deals with the issue of discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS in the workplace. Two “hard cases”, the cook and the surgeon living with HIV took place in Portugal. These cases are analysed and discussed taking into consideration international, European and Portuguese law, case law and recommendations from international organisations and medical associations. The author concludes that a cook living with HIV may continue performing her professional activity. Concerning the surgeon and other health care professionals, if there is evidence of risk to the health of third parties (patients), they may be excluded from certain activities, but shall retain the right to perform, at least, non-invasive medicine. However, the solutions that were taken by Portuguese authorities were exactly the opposite, which may be a sign of discrimination due to the social and economic inequalities of society. These cases make clear that the role of occupational health doctors is crucial in keeping confidentiality and the decision concerning the ability or non-ability to work must be based on scientific evidence.

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Biomedical Law, Faculty of Law, University of Coimbra 3004-545 Coimbra, Portugal, Email:


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