HIV positive employees face unemployment and workplace discrimination, indicates a study published ahead of print in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
But women and those who are less well educated are the most vulnerable, the research shows.
The authors base their findings on a nationally representative sample of 478 HIV positive people in France. All of them had been diagnosed while in employment and in the era of anti-retroviral treatments, which slow progression to AIDS.
They were quizzed about the progression of their disease and how they were treated in the workplace.
At the time of their interview participants had known about their diagnosis for an average of four years, and around four out of 10 had progressed to AIDS or severe immune deficiency.
Twenty said they had been discriminated against because they were HIV positive.
Around a third (149) had lost their jobs while of working age. Almost one in three said their health had precipitated their job loss.
But one in five said they had been sacked, and around one in 10 (12%) had not had their contracts renewed.
Women with AIDS or severe immune deficiency were more than four times as likely to lose their job as those with less severe illness, but this was not true of men.
Those with lower level education, who said they had been discriminated against at work, were more than five times as likely to find themselves out of a job as those who had not experienced discrimination.
But this was not the case for employees who were better educated.
Holding down a job helps maintain living standards among those with long term conditions, and protects mental and physical health, say the authors. But disease severity and discrimination erode employment opportunities.
Source: British Medical Journal