BACKGROUND : Infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an epidemic that has become the leading
cause of morbidity and mortality in South Africa. HIV/AIDS threatens productivity, profitability and the welfare of
employees and their families. Some employers insist on knowing the HIV status of their domestic workers, and
there have been reports of discrimination and unfair dismissal when they are found to be infected.
METHODS : This qualitative study describes the knowledge, attitudes and practices of employers towards HIV-positive
domestic workers in Rustenburg. In-depth interviews and a focus group discussion were conducted with 10
purposefully selected participants, all employers of domestic workers.
RESULTS : It was found that employers had reasonable knowledge about HIV and AIDS and positive views on accepting
and accommodating an HIV-positive domestic worker. While they would not consider dismissal on the
basis of HIV status, they were not aware of legal aspects related to HIV-positive domestic workers or how to offer
support. They were also not aware of universal precautions to use to prevent HIV transmission.
CONCLUSION : There is a need to provide more information to employers to ensure that HIV-positive domestic
workers are reasonably accommodated in their work and have access to appropriate services.