Work-related stigma and disclosure: A daily challenge for people living with HIV

Work. 2017;58(4):537-548. doi: 10.3233/WOR-172650.


Background: Stigma and disclosure are important work-related issues for people living with HIV (PLWH). To gain better understanding and improve the position of PLWH in the labor market, further insight in these issues is needed.

Objective: This study reviews the scientific evidence related to work-related stigma and disclosure.

Methods: A sensitive literature search was performed in the databases of Medline, Embase, Cochrane Library, Cinahl and Psychinfo for articles published between 1996 and 2016. All studies on PLWH in western countries and investigating disclosure or stigma in relation to work were included.

Results: Of the 866 identified studies, 19 met the inclusion criteria: 4 addressed both disclosure and stigma (2 quantitative), 9 addressed only disclosure (4 quantitative) and 7 studies addressed only stigma (4 quantitative).

Conclusion: This review provides a unique overview of the research on work-related disclosure and stigma, which will enable health care providers to support PWLH to make well-considered decisions. However, the available literature was heterogeneous and in most studies the topics of our interest were secondary outcomes and provided only basic insight.

Keywords: Work participation; anxiety; counseling; depression; working conditions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Depression / etiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / psychology
  • Humans
  • Social Stigma*
  • Truth Disclosure*
  • Workplace / psychology*