Hefei - A court in Anhui province said on Monday that it accepted a case filed by a college graduate who had been denied a teaching job because he was HIV positive.
This is believed to be China's first case of job discrimination due to HIV status on the mainland despite widespread HIV/AIDS related discrimination and stigma in the country, where 740,000 people are living with the virus, experts said.
The plaintiff, from Anqing, Anhui province, and going by the alias Xiao Wu, was denied a teaching job by the Anqing city education department in mid-August after he tested positive for HIV.
The medical tests, including screenings for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis C, were taken after he had passed the written tests and interviews for the job.
The Anqing People's Court of Yingjiang District put Xiao Wu's case on record on Monday morning.
Xiao Wu wants the education department to review its decision and give him the job he deserves, according to lawyer Zheng Jineng, who represents the case.
No economic compensation is being claimed in the suit.
Xiao Wu could not be reached for a comment.
"We understand he was under huge pressure and afraid of media exposure," said Zheng.
"I hope the case can draw the public's attention and help protect job seekers against any kind of discrimination," he told China Daily on Monday.
The trial is scheduled to begin in two weeks.
"China has issued laws and regulations protecting the rights of people with HIV/AIDS including the right to employment. Denying them the jobs they deserve is depriving them of their rights to work for society and earn a living," said Lu Jun, who heads the Beijing-based civil society Yirenping, which helps people fight discrimination through legal means.
"I think he will win the case," he noted.
However, in a recent interview Xiao Wu said he was uncertain about the result.
Also, he said, once the case becomes widely reported it could weigh heavily on his future as all of his friends and relatives would know he was HIV positive, he said.
Xiao Wu was born and raised in rural Anqing. He said that he went through four years of college education in the hope of getting a decent job.
The education department defended its decision by citing student protection.
"As an education department, we believe that teachers should be responsible for students' sound development. Our decision not to hire him is to protect the students. We definitely won't change our minds," said a staff surnamed Fang from the department of education in Anqing.
Daily contacts including shaking hands and eating together would not spread HIV, medical experts said.
However, a mother surnamed Yang in Anqing, whose 8-year-old son attends a local primary school, told China Daily on Monday that she agreed with the education department's decision.
"I understand Xiao Wu's suffering but I don't want an HIV carrier to teach my son," she said.