by Sheela Philomena on  September 9, 2011 at 11:42 AM AIDS/HIV News
 China: Discrimination Suit
In China, an HIV-positive man sues local authorities for denying him a job as a primary school teacher.

If accepted by the court, the lawsuit will be only the second such discrimination case heard in China, where people with HIV/AIDS are often stigmatised despite growing signs of openness.

The 27-year-old plaintiff, who goes by the alias Xiao Hai, told AFP he passed a test and interview for a teaching job in the southwestern province of Guizhou in April, but was denied the post after a health check.

"Authorities told me they couldn't employ me because the results showed I was HIV-positive," he said, adding he had filed a lawsuit Wednesday against human resources authorities in Sandu Shui Autonomous County.

According to the state-run Global Times newspaper, his lawyer Chen Wensheng has asked the court to overturn the rejection of the job application, which he argues is illegal and represents job discrimination.

He said the decision on health grounds broke the 2008 Law on Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases and other regulations that bar employers from discriminating against patients with HIV -- the virus that causes AIDS.

The lawsuit -- which has yet to be accepted by the court -- is similar to a landmark case heard last year in the eastern province of Anhui and widely believed to be the first HIV discrimination case heard by a Chinese court.

The plaintiff in that case, heard in October, also sued local authorities for allegedly denying him a job because he was HIV-positive, but lost the action.

"We believe it's a very positive that people are seeking to use the law to protect their rights," UN AIDS advocate Guy Taylor told AFP, adding that a third similar case was filed but rejected by a Sichuan court late last year.

Rejecting job applicants because of their HIV status was both illegal and dangerous, he said.

"These practices exacerbate stigma and increases the reluctance of HIV-positive people and those at increased risk of exposure to practice prevention and seek testing and treatment," Taylor said.

HIV/AIDS sufferers have long been stigmatised in China, but increased government education and a recent motion picture featuring movie star Zhang Ziyi as an HIV carrier have helped raise awareness.

China says that at least 740,000 people are living with HIV but campaigners say the actual figure could be far higher.

Source: AFP

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