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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Justice Department Settles with Fayetteville Pain Center Over HIV Discrimination

The Justice Department announced today that, as part of its Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative, it has reached a settlement with the Fayetteville Pain Center under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The settlement resolves allegations that the Fayetteville Pain Center violated the ADA by refusing to treat a woman because she has HIV.

The complainant, a woman with HIV who was suffering from back pain as a result of a car accident, visited the Fayetteville Pain Center in Fayetteville, N.C., seeking treatment.  According to the complaint, the woman was unable to obtain medical treatment because the doctor at the Fayetteville Pain Center refused to treat a person with HIV.  The ADA requires public accommodations such as doctors’ offices, medical clinics, hospitals, and other health care providers, to provide people with disabilities, including those with HIV, equal access to goods, services, and facilities.

Under the settlement, the Fayetteville Pain Center must pay $10,000 to the complainant and $5,000 to the United States in civil penalties, train its staff on the ADA, and develop and implement an anti-discrimination policy.

“All people deserve equal access to medical treatment.  People with HIV and other disabilities must not be denied health care because of their disabilities.  Medical professionals, perhaps more than anyone, should understand that the universal precautions they use when treating all patients mean no one should be excluded from treatment based on HIV,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  “This type of discrimination will not be tolerated.”

The U.S. Attorney in Eastern North Carolina, Thomas G. Walker, emphasized that “this settlement should also send a message to all health care providers in Eastern North Carolina that a disability cannot be a factor in determining accessibility to care and treatment.”

This settlement is part of the Department of Justice’s Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative, a partnership of the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorneys’ offices across the nation, to target enforcement efforts on a critical area for individuals with disabilities.  The initiative was announced on the anniversary of the ADA in July 2012 and 40 U.S. Attorneys’ offices are participating.  The division expects the initiative to address access to health care for people with HIV and hearing disabilities, as well as physical access to medical facilities.  In 2012, the division and U.S. Attorneys reached two settlement agreements regarding access to medical care for people with HIV and four settlements regarding access to medical care for people with hearing disabilities. 

For more information on the ADA and HIV visit www.ada.gov/aids.  Those interested in finding out more information about these settlements or the obligations of public accommodations under the ADA, including how it protects people with HIV in accessing medical care, 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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