Statement by Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke on World AIDS Day
On World AIDS Day, the Department of Justice reaffirms the rights of people living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) to live free from stigma and discrimination. Through enforcement of civil rights laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and by educating the public about their rights and responsibilities through outreach and technical assistance, the department remains committed to protecting and advancing the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS.
“The Department of Justice plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the civil rights of people living with HIV and AIDS,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Civil Rights Division. “Together with our federal partners and those in communities across America, the department remains steadfast in its commitment to eradicate unlawful treatment of those living with HIV and AIDS, recognizing in particular the disproportionate impact of HIV on communities of color, including Black and Latino communities. In doing so, the department will renew our fight against the spread of unfounded stereotypes and misinformation about the disease while celebrating the advances that allow people with HIV to live long and productive lives.”
Over the past year, the department has continued vigorously to enforce the ADA to combat HIV discrimination and the still-pervasive attitudinal barriers that people living with HIV and AIDS experience daily — particularly in accessing health care services. The department’s enforcement efforts seek equal opportunity and dignity in all aspects of life for those living with HIV and AIDS.
- In January, the department filed two lawsuits alleging that obstetrician-gynecologist doctors in California refused to provide routine medical care to a patient on the basis of her HIV status. The complaints alleged that when the patient tried to make an appointment with one of the doctors, she was told that the doctor could not see her because she had HIV and the other doctor denied the patient a Pap smear, a regular preventative procedure, because he deemed her a “high risk” patient. https://www.ada.gov/anucha_comp.html; https://www.ada.gov/jamaluddin_comp.html
- In June, the department entered into a settlement agreement with a dental practice with multiple locations in North Carolina after an investigation substantiated that the practice refused to accept a new patient with HIV who was seeking routine dental care, and required certain laboratory results from patients with HIV before deciding whether to provide care. The agreement requires the practice to pay compensatory damages to the individual, provide training and implement a non-discrimination policy. https://www.ada.gov/night_and_day_sa.html
- In February, the department entered into a settlement agreement with a surgical practice in Michigan after an investigation by the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services substantiated allegations that the practice turned away a prospective patient because of the person’s HIV status. The agreement requires the practice to pay compensatory damages to the individual, provide training and implement non-discrimination policies and practices. https://www.ada.gov/great_lakes_surgical_sa.html
- In February, the department entered into a settlement agreement with the Nevada Department of Corrections to resolve systemic discrimination in its correctional practices. The department’s investigation found that the State impermissibly isolated and segregated inmates with HIV, failed to keep their HIV status confidential and denied them equal employment opportunities as well as classification and housing at lower custody levels. Under the settlement, Nevada agreed to develop or amend its policies and procedures to ensure equal and integrated housing, classification and employment opportunities; to provide training on the ADA to staff; and to implement an ADA grievance procedure. https://www.ada.gov/nv_doc_sa.html
- In June, the department entered into a settlement agreement with a nail salon in North Carolina that denied services to an individual living with HIV and inappropriately requested medical documentation. The agreement requires the salon to pay monetary damages to the individual, provide training and adopt a non-discrimination policy. https://www.ada.gov/diva_nails.pdf
In addition to enforcement efforts, the department continues to engage in outreach to educate people living with HIV and AIDS, businesses, state and local governments and public 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 800-514-0383 (TTY).
On World AIDS Day 2021, and every day, the department remains dedicated to eradicating discrimination against those living with HIV and AIDS. Through comprehensive enforcement of our civil rights laws and the provision of outreach and technical assistance, the department will continue to lead efforts to ensure that all people living with HIV and AIDS can share fully in all that our country has to offer.
To learn more about the department’s work, please visit www.ada.gov/hiv.