On World AIDS Day 2017, the Department of Justice pledges its commitment to eradicating stigma and discrimination against those living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Over 1,000,000 people in the United States currently live with HIV. Every day, these individuals go to work, care for their families, attend school, serve their country, volunteer in their communities, and are an integral part of our social fabric. By educating members of the public on their rights and responsibilities and enforcing the civil rights laws that protect people with HIV, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the department helps ensure that all Americans live with dignity. In recognizing World AIDS Day 2017, John M. Gore, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, stated:
“Eradicating discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS is a key civil rights issue. The Department of Justice is proud to play a lead role in eradicating discrimination against those living with HIV or AIDS. On this important day and every day of the year, we will continue to protect the civil rights of all Americans.”
Over the past year, the department’s enforcement efforts ensured that people living with HIV and their families have access to basic and essential aspects of public life free from discrimination. This includes the right to attend school. In March 2017, the department entered into a settlement agreement under the ADA with a public school district that excluded three students after reviewing a document referencing the HIV status of the students’ family member. The agreement prohibits the district from asking for any student’s or prospective student’s HIV test results, and requires the district to train instructors and administrators on the ADA, report on its compliance with the agreement, and pay monetary damages to each of the affected students. Through this agreement, the department reaffirmed that no child should be kept from attending school based on unfounded fears about HIV.
The department has also protected individuals’ employment rights, ensuring that individuals with HIV can work and contribute to our economy. In April 2017, the department settled a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging that the City of New York and the New York City Police Department violated the ADA by disqualifying an applicant with HIV from a Police Communications Technician position. This settlement secured $85,000 for the applicant, an acknowledgment from the City of New York that having HIV is not a basis to deny an individual employment, and the extension of a conditional offer of employment to the affected individual.
Further, the department helped ensure that people with HIV are not turned away when seeking medical care. After learning that a health care system denied medical services to two individuals with HIV, the department entered into a settlement agreement with the system, requiring it to undertake annual training of its employees on their obligations under the ADA and to pay $60,000 in damages and civil penalties.
The department has also continued its initiatives to educate businesses, public employers, and people living with HIV/AIDS on their rights and responsibilities under the ADA. Department staff have met with organizations serving people living with HIV in cities nationwide, providing outreach and critical information to affected populations. 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 800-514-0383 (TTY).
On World AIDS Day 2017, and every day, the department remains committed to eradicating stigma and discrimination against those living with HIV. Through continued enforcement of our laws and the provision of outreach and technical assistance, the department will continue to lead efforts to ensure that all people living with HIV can share fully in the American Dream.
To learn more about the department’s work, please visit www.ada.gov/hiv.