A man with HIV has formally complained about job centre staff who publicly asked him about his condtion – then sent him to a disability adviser.
Jobseeker Jayce Carberry, 22, said he was made declare his condition within earshot of others and told it would be in his notes permanently.
The former hairdresser was then referred to a disability adviser at the Jobcentre Plus in Maidstone, Kent – despite the disease having no impact on his ability to work.
Jayce, who was diagnosed with HIV in June last year, said he was treated as if he ‘had the plague’.
He said: “I was told I had to declare it or my application would be invalid.
“I didn’t want it to be on the claim that it was a disability because I am not disabled.
“The adviser said he’d have to speak to his legal team to see if they had to disclose my HIV status to any members of the staff I would come into contact within the building.”
He added: “I was disgusted and so angry. I’ve never been made to feel so ashamed of myself. I felt like he thought I had the plague.
“It just goes to show how uneducated people are about HIV and that there is still a stigma.
“I could see people staring at me. It was embarrassing.”
Jayce has made an official complaint against the job centre for the way he was treated on February 15.
Equalities minister Helen Grant has now written to the job centre and Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith to raise her concerns.
Ms Grant, Tory MP for Maidstone and The Weal, said: “It’s absolutely right that if people like Jayce go out and try to get work they should be given all the help and support that they need and deserve.
“They must be treated with absolute dignity and respect.”
The Department for Work and Pensions yesterday said people did not officially have to declare medical conditions when applying for Jobseeker’s Allowance.
The Jobcentre Plus have now changed their policy on dealing with HIV sufferers after branch bosses met with Jayce.
Jayce said: “They said they will be introducing mandatory training to staff when it comes to dealing with people who have HIV.”