After a long-running equality campaign, German flag carrier Lufthansa has eliminated a long-standing requirement for newly hired flight attendants to undergo an obligatory pre-employment HIV test.
A union that represents flight attendants at the airline says wannabe flight attendants who were discovered to be HIV positive had their offers of employment with the airline withdrawn following the life-changing revelation.
When recruiters made brief phone calls to persons who would not have known they were HIV-positive, it is alleged that the airline told them of their status and then notified them that their contract was being terminated.
The justification given by Lufthansa for mandating an HIV test before to employment was outmoded concerns that those who are HIV-positive shouldn’t receive the yellow fever vaccine.
Pilots and flight attendants must be immunized against yellow fever as a condition of employment with many international airlines because they otherwise cannot go to a number of high-risk nations like Ghana, Angola, and Cameroon.
In addition, a number of other nations recommend getting vaccinated against Yellow Fever, and some countries additionally demand confirmation of the vaccination if a person has recently visited a high-risk location.
Although the Yellow Fever vaccine is quite successful, it is a “replicating live attenuated vaccine,” and in the past, health officials cautioned people with HIV against getting the vaccine since the immune response might be impaired.
While such warnings were published many years ago, science has advanced greatly, and now, the vast majority of HIV-positive individuals who are successfully receiving treatment can receive vaccinations.
“Many people have been denied the dream of flying in the last few decades and we are sure that even today, some HIV-positive people shy away from applying because ‘positive’ flying has been long portrayed as an image of impossibility,” the AG-Gesundheit said in a statement on Thursday.
“The stigmatization that affects people living with the virus is still omnipresent today and is associated with shame and prejudice,” the statement continued.
“It was always a thorn in our side that Lufthansa, in particular, had insisted on an HIV test for recruitment… this test resulted in major cases of discrimination, especially in the beginning”.
It was reported on Thursday that Lufthansa has finally removed the requirement to undergo an obligatory HIV test after years of internal pressure from the airline’s own personnel. Nonetheless, Lufthansa will continue to provide a pre-employment HIV test as a part of its “tropical fitness” physical.
“This is a small, quiet success and milestone in Lufthansa’s history, but one that has great significance, especially for the LGBTQIA+ community,” a spokesperson for the union commented.
“it recognizes the reality of life for an HIV-positive person (once treated) as fully fit for employment… job applicants will no longer be subjected to harassment and discrimination in the future.”