Landmark court ruling in Egypt prohibits HIV discrimination in the workplace

01 July 2016

Ahmed was dismissed from his job as a plumber for a club in Giza, Egypt, in 2015 after his employer discovered he was living with HIV. Rather than remain silent, Ahmed decided to pursue legal action with the help of the Al Shehab Foundation for Comprehensive Development.

The Al Shehab Foundation is an Egyptian nongovernmental organization that defends the legal rights of marginalized people, including the rights of people living with HIV to work and access education and accommodation without discrimination. The legal action was supported by the International Development Law Organization, which works closely with UNAIDS through a memorandum of understanding.

In a historic decision for Egypt and the region, a court in Cairo ruled in Ahmed’s favour, stating that people living with HIV cannot be dismissed because of their HIV status. The court’s directive, issued in February 2016, stated that employment is a basic human right for all Egyptian citizens, regardless of their health condition, as long as they can still work.

This seminal court ruling has been applauded by civil society, activists and international development organizations engaged in the AIDS response in Egypt and across the Middle East and North Africa. The ruling sets an important legal precedent for future discrimination cases and is consistent with UNAIDS guidance and the Arab AIDS Strategy (2014 – 2020). 


“The court ruling has changed my life significantly, as I no longer fear losing my job due to my HIV status.”

Ahmed (name changed) person living with HIV

“We have been fighting for many years for an Egyptian court to affirm the right of people living with HIV to work without discrimination.”

Youssef Awad Chair, Al Shehab Foundation for Comprehensive Development

“The court decision affirming the right of people living with HIV to work is consistent with relevant international legal frameworks.”

David Patterson Senior Legal Expert on Health, International Development Law Organization

“This court decision will set an important precedent for ensuring zero discrimination in the workplace for the whole region.”

Yamina Chakkar Director, UNAIDS Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa