By Nick Triggle
BBC News Online health staff
New disability discrimination legislation has come into force. BBC News Online examines whether it will help the 50,000 people with HIV in the UK.
The fire service is now covered by disability discrimination law
Dean was diagnosed HIV-positive in April 1999.
At the time he had a high-flying career as a stockbroker in London.
But that soon changed once he told his employers.
"Work was initially sympathetic. I disclosed my status to my department head and got paid leave.
"However, the news did spread within the firm and around other institutions in the city. It's a very gossipy, incestuous working environment.
"I went back to work for a short time but couldn't cope with the pressure, signing off sick again, I was given an ultimatum to return or be constructively dismissed.
"They were pleased to wash their hands of me and being in a very fragile, distressed state, I did not challenge the decision - something I obviously regret now."
After losing his job, Dean spent two years abroad before coming back to England and settling in Gloucestershire. He is now looking to work in the voluntary sector.
Campaigners believe his case is far from unique.
However, they hope the tide will start turning after new anti-discrimination laws came into place on Friday.
It is now against the law for all employers to discriminate against people with disability.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 now applies to small businesses and parts of the public sector.
Larger firms were already covered by the act, which outlaws any form of discrimination, prejudice or harassment in the workplace.
Employers are also required to allow people with HIV and Aids, and other conditions such as diabetes and epilepsy, to work for them. Only the armed forces are exempt.
And it gives those who are discriminated against a clear right to legal redress.
More than 50,000 are living with HIV in the UK - 25% of whom have Aids defining illnesses - many of them working across the private, public and voluntary sectors.
Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National Aids Trust, said in the past people with HIV and Aids have found it hard to tell their employers.
"One of the difficulties is disclosure, and a lot of that is to do with the stigma and discrimination that still exits.
"Some people do fear that their employers will sack them or make life difficult and there is an awful lot of evidence to support that."
The trust said a variety of people with HIV and Aids have contacted them about work discrimination.
In one case a job applicant was refused employment after he told his future boss that he was HIV-positive.
Others have been subject to verbal abuse, while a hairdresser was dismissed because "customers and staff would feel uncomfortable with him working in the salon".
Improvements in drug treatment mean people are living longer
Businesses, for their part, say they are willing to change.
A spokesman for the Confederation of British Industry said business was "ready" for the challenge.
Among the employers exempt before Friday were the fire service and police.
Stewart Brown, of the Fire Brigades Union, said he wanted to see the service stamp out prejudice and become a "better employer".
"The fire and rescue service is one where stigma and discrimination exists in many forms, including towards people living with HIV and Aids."
And Andy Hewlett, HIV consultant for the Gay Police Association, said the new laws would help reassure and protect police staff who work for police forces.
To coincide with the new regulations, the National Aids Trust has produced a resource pack for employers explaining what their responsibilities are and what it means to have HIV and Aids.
The pack also calls on employers to develop HIV policies.
Ms Jack said the new regulations meant employers had to start thinking seriously about how to treat staff with HIV and Aids.
"Improvements in drug treatment mean people are living longer and are healthier.
"But they still need support. It is quite often simple things, time off to see doctors or even having a desk near the toilets as one of the consequences of the drugs is that some people have diarrhoea."
Nick Partridge, chief executive of the Terrence Higgins
Trust, also believes the act will make a difference.
"It sends a very important message to employers and service providers that discriminating against people just because they have HIV is not only unacceptable, it's also now illegal.
"Sadly, people with HIV can still face prejudice and discrimination in many areas of their daily lives, and we hope that this change in the law will go some way towards reducing it."
But campaigners also agree that the new legislation will not mean an end to discrimination.
Under a loophole in the law, people with HIV are not covered until they develop symptoms of the virus.
That is due to change when a bill comes into force, probably towards the end of next year, which will extend the protection to when people are diagnosed with HIV.
The loophole has led some to claim Friday's change will not make a huge difference.
A spokeswoman for the Disability Rights Commission, set up in 2000 to promote equal opportunity for people with disabilities, said: "Many people with HIV and Aids are discriminated against. Unfortunately, it is unlikely there will be huge benefits with the new legislation.
"We may have to wait until next year to see big changes."
Ms Jack agreed, saying many people with HIV are still not covered by the protection.
"That will change next year but we still want employers to face up to their responsibilities."
And Andrew Little, director of the Positive Futures Partnership, a support group to help improve the education and employment prospects of people with HIV, said: "Discrimination is not going to disappear altogether. But what the new rules do is send out a message that this type of discrimination is not to be tolerated.
"We can use it to support what we are saying when we talk to employers. That is how it will make a difference."