Lambda Legal can’t tell you the best way to handle such an inquiry — because sometimes just by refusing to answer, you will be presumed to have answered the question — but we can tell you what the law says about this:
A potential employer is not legally allowed to ask you this question if the company has not yet offered you a job. If you have been offered the job — contingent only upon successful completion of a medical exam — or are already working in the position, an employer is allowed to ask if you are HIV positive as long as they ask the same question of everyone who holds this or a similar position. Either way, you may want to ask whether and/or how a person’s HIV status is relevant to the ability to do the job.
There are still a few occupations for which employers can legally ask about someone’s HIV status. However, Lambda Legal is working on reforms that would make it clear that HIV-positive individuals can safely perform any job in any occupation without any special accommodations.
In the meantime, it is wise to either refuse to answer or to be truthful in your response. Lying about your status in response to a lawful inquiry can be a problem later if you end up trying to take that employer to court.
Founded in 1973, Lambda Legal is the oldest and largest national legal organization whose mission is to achieve full recognition of the civil rights of LGBT people and all people living with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.
Go to LambdaLegal.org/Know-Your-Rights for more information.