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On World AIDS Day, Justice Department Highlights Efforts to Protect Civil Rights of People Living with HIV and AIDS

December 2, 2022
Source: U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)

On World AIDS Day 2022, the Justice Department reaffirms its commitment to protecting the rights of people living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Since passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) more than 30 years ago, the department has worked vigorously to protect and advance the rights of the more than one million Americans living with HIV and AIDS.

“The Department of Justice vigorously safeguards the rights of all Americans, including people living with HIV and AIDS,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “On World AIDS Day, we reaffirm our commitment to using civil rights laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, to address the unlawful treatment of people living with HIV and AIDS and stem the spread of stereotypes and misinformation about the disease.”

Over the past year, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has prioritized the enforcement of the ADA to seek equal opportunity for and combat discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS.

  • In October, the department issued a letter finding that a Pennsylvania county correctional facility violated the ADA by preventing an inmate from working in the facility’s kitchen because he has HIV. This exclusion deprived the inmate of benefits including monetary compensation, special housing, extra privileges and eligibility for sentence reduction. 
  • In September, the department entered a consent decree resolving a lawsuit against the Town of Clarksville, Indiana. The lawsuit alleged that the Town’s police department prevented a qualified applicant from becoming a police officer based on his HIV diagnosis. The agreement requires Clarksville to pay monetary damages to the complainant, revise its policies and train its personnel.
  • In September, the department secured a settlement agreement with an in-home caregiving agency to resolve allegations that the company refused to provide in-home services to an individual with HIV. The agreement requires the agency to pay monetary damages to the individual, adopt a non-discrimination policy and train its staff.
  • In June and July, the department secured settlement agreements with two tattoo studios to resolve complaints that clients were refused services after informing the studios of their HIV-positive status. The agreements require the tattoo studios to pay monetary damages to the complainants, develop a non-discrimination policy, and train their employees. 
  • In February, the department entered consent decrees resolving two cases alleging that doctors in California refused to provide routine medical care to a patient on the basis of her HIV status. One lawsuit alleged that when the patient tried to make an appointment, she was told that the doctor could not see her because she had HIV, and the second lawsuit alleged that another doctor denied the patient a Pap smear, a regular preventative procedure, because he deemed her a “high risk” patient. The consent decrees require each doctor to pay monetary damages to the complainant and a civil penalty to the United States, to receive training on the ADA and the care of patients with HIV, and to implement a non-discrimination policy.

In addition to its enforcement efforts, the department continues to engage in outreach to educate people living with HIV and AIDS, businesses, state and local governments, and other covered entities on their rights and responsibilities under the ADA. The department also provides technical assistance and responds to questions from individuals and covered entities through our ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice) or 833-610-1264 (TTY).

To learn more about the Civil Rights Division’s work, please visit Civil Rights Division | Department of Justice and Home Page.

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