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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 11, 2012
Health Care Providers Settle with Justice Department Over Complaints of HIV Discrimination

The Justice Department announced that it has reached two settlements today resolving claims that health care providers refused to serve people with HIV in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  

The first complaint was filed by a man with HIV who went to the Mercy Medical Group Midtown Clinic in Sacramento, Calif.   After meeting with the patient and examining him, a podiatrist at the clinic informed the patient of his treatment options.   Although surgery was one of the treatment options, the podiatrist incorrectly told the patient that he could not perform the surgery because of a risk that he would contract HIV from the patient during surgery.   The United States determined that the podiatrist’s actions violated the ADA by denying the patient the full and equal enjoyment of the services offered at the clinic on the basis of his disability.

The second complaint was filed by a man with HIV who went to the Knoxville Chiropractic Clinic North in Knoxville, Tenn., for chiropractic treatment following an automobile accident.   After examining him, the doctor determined that the patient required 24 subsequent appointments to treat his injuries.   On his third visit to the clinic, however, the receptionist informed him that the doctor would not see him because they could not treat people “like him.”   The United States determined that Knoxville Chiropractic Centers had a blanket policy of refusing treatment to persons with HIV in violation of the ADA.

“It is critical that people with disabilities, including HIV, not be denied equal access to goods and services, especially to health care services.   The Civil Rights Division takes discrimination based on unfounded fears and stereotypes about HIV very seriously,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.   “We applaud Mercy Medical Group and CHW Medical Foundation, as well as Knoxville Chiropractic Centers, for working cooperatively with the Justice Department to resolve these matters quickly and fairly.”  

The settlement agreements require the entities to develop and implement a non-discrimination policy and to train staff on the requirements of the ADA.   In addition, Mercy Medical Group and CHW Medical Foundation are required to pay $60,000 to the complainant and $25,000 as a civil penalty, and Knoxville Chiropractic Centers is required to pay $10,000 as a civil penalty.  

The ADA requires public accommodations, like doctors’ offices, medical clinics, hospitals and other health care providers, to provide individuals with disabilities, including people with HIV, equal access to goods, services, privileges, accommodations, facilities, advantages and accommodations.  

The Department of Justice provides a webpage specifically dedicated to information about the ADA and HIV at www.ada.gov/aids.   Those interested in finding out more about these settlements or the obligations of public accommodations under the ADA may call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or access its ADA website at www.ada.gov.  ADA complaints may be filed by email to ada.complaint@usdoj.gov.

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