MANILA - "Gus," a 21-year-old teacher, said he was fired from a Catholic school in Pasay City after he told the dean that he was infected with the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV.
His case underscores how HIV-positive Filipinos are unfairly treated in the workplace, as the country grapples with rising infections of the AIDS-causing virus, according to a report from Human Rights Watch.
"I was asked to resign. They wrote my resignation letter and asked me to sign it because I might infect the students," Gus said in the HRW report.
Awareness of their rights in the workplace does not guarantee job security for those living with HIV, the human rights monitor said.
"The Philippines faces a double whammy of increasing HIV infection and fears by workers with HIV that they can't seek justice if they are discriminated against on the job," said Carlos Conde, Philippines researcher at Human Rights Watch.
"The government needs to ensure that people living with HIV get better protection in their jobs and that the public gets more and better information on HIV," Conde said.
The lack of information on the disease has pushed the number of HIV positive Filipinos to 10,500 in 2016 from 4,300 in 2010. The growth rate of HIV infections in the Philippines last year was the highest in the Asia Pacific.
"The Philippines has strong laws on the books, notably the HIV/AIDS law, which criminalizes workplace discrimination against people living with HIV, but there is little evidence that the government is adequately enforcing the laws to prevent and punish workplace discrimination," HRW said.
As of November 2017, at least 49,733 Filipinos are suffering from HIV, the group said.