Your rights as an HIV-positive person are protected in the workplace by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that was passed by Congress in 1990. But the ADA goes beyond the workplace to protect you from discrimination in other areas.
On September 16, 1994, Sidney Abbott went to a dentist appointment. Ms. Abbott disclosed that she was HIV-positive and that her condition was asymptomatic. The dentist examined Ms. Abbott, but, upon finding a cavity, he refused to treat her because of her HIV status.
Ms. Abbott filed a lawsuit in federal court arguing that she had been discriminated against in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). After a series of appeals, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Ms. Abbott's case, marking the first time that the highest court would rule on an ADA case involving a person with HIV. On June 25, 1998, the Supreme Court held in Bragdon v. Abbott that an individual who is HIV positive but asymptomatic, like Ms. Abbott, has a disability within the meaning of the ADA and is entitled to the protections of the statute.
In 2008, Congress amended the ADA, making it easier for people with HIV/AIDS to demonstrate that they are persons with disabilities who are covered by the statute. Specifically, under the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, people with HIV/AIDS can demonstrate that they are disabled simply by showing that their unmedicated HIV/AIDS substantially limits the functions of their immune system.
The ADA guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities—including persons with HIV — So it reaches beyond employment to protect your rights. The U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division specifies:
State and Local Governments
Health Care Providers
Exclusion of Individuals with HIV or AIDS
Filing a Housing Discrimination Complaint with HUD
Filing a Discrimination Complaint with DOJ
To file a complaint with DOJ, visit www.ada.gov/aids (employment-related complaints can be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)).
Complaints may also be sent as follows:
ADA INFORMATION LINE
If you feel that you’ve been a victim of discrimination because of your HIV status, don’t wait too long to act, many discrimination issues have statutes of limitations and you could lose your rights.
Copyright 2018, Positive Health Publications, Inc.
This magazine is intended to enhance your relationship with your doctor - not replace it! Medical treatments and products should always be discussed with a licensed physician who has experience treating HIV and AIDS!