Fighting Ignorance About HIV

Decades into the HIV epidemic, some government policies continue to misunderstand the actual risk of HIV transmission and to ignore the urgent health care needs of people living with HIV. Here are a few highlights of the ACLU's work on fighting these HIV-related policies all across the country this year.

  • Access to HIV-related medications in Illinois jails. When people with HIV are incarcerated, they often face a disruption in access to their medication. While this is a problem for all inmates, it's particularly important not to have a break in HIV drugs, since that can lead to the development of drug-resistant strains of the virus. Arick Buckles faced this problem in an Illinois jail when he was denied his HIV medications for seven days because staff said they were too costly. The ACLU of Illinois recently settled Buckles' claims against the jail with an agreement to change the jail's policies regarding the provision of HIV medications and to train staff on the medical need for uninterrupted access to the drugs. Our next step is to leverage this settlement into broader policy change across Illinois and other states.
  • Removing barriers to parenting by HIV+ adults. This spring, a Wisconsin child placement agency initially approved a couple to be foster parents, but then reneged once it learned that one of the adults was living with HIV. We pointed out to the agency that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics both have made clear that there is no risk of transmission of HIV in typical household settings, that universal precautions protect the children, and that courts have held that policies like the one at this agency violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. The agency has dropped its restrictions on placement with the couple and has already placed several children in their home.
  • Ending segregation of HIV+ prisoners in the U.S. We reported last December that, as a result of a lawsuit we filed a federal judge ruled that Alabama's policies of segregating HIV+ prisoners in separate prison housing, barring them from food service work release jobs, and requiring them to wear armbands that identify them as having HIV all violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. We have continued to work with Alabama officials to implement changes to the policies. This summer, they moved the HIV-positive prisoners into the general population at the women's prison, and in early September, they announced that the men's prisons will be integrated in 2014.. And this spring the ACLU helped convince South Carolina prison officials to end their segregation of HIV+ prisoners, which was the last state with such an explicitly discriminatory policy.
  • An end to a misguided state law requiring invasion of the privacy of HIV+ students. Illinois was the only state in the country that still had a law requiring state health officials, upon learning that a student tested positive for HIV, to notify the student's principal, who could then disclose the student's HIV status to others at the school. Over 25 years after this law passed in 1987, at the height of AIDS panic nationwide, it's clear that HIV is not transmitted through casual contact at school or playing sports, and that this law invaded student privacy for no good reason. The ACLU's five-year effort to help pass a repeal bill finally worked, and the governor signed it last month.
  • Chipping away at the criminalization of having HIV. Minnesota charged Daniel Rick with a crime for having sex while HIV+, even though he had disclosed his HIV status to his partner. The Supreme Court of Minnesota ruled that the state's law banning "knowing transfer of a communicable disease" doesn't apply in such a situation. The court's decision affirms that the government must respect the personal and private decisions of consenting adults regarding sexual intimacy and procreation.

With your help, the ACLU will continue its work to fight government discrimination against people with HIV, to change policies based on irrational fear of HIV exposure, and to end discriminatory barriers to essential HIV-related health care.

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Frank Vaca

Wasn't there a case where a college student rival in student government used his status against him? Just saying the education part is still a major piece.

Simon A.Rawicz

The Global fight against HIV/Aids is ongoing however the systematic abuse of some sectors within it cause more damage 'for the cause' than some people will ever know.

Here in Athens, Greece, the Greek CDC employ people who illegally claim to be Doctors in a bid to gain personal data which is no doubt used against medical protocol and whilst this goes on, the many NGO's within this sector all know about it and encourage those to do the same.

The Greek ACTUP is responsible for running a non confidential helpline which is manned by anyone from Mickey Mouse to Donald Duck and which has been found guilty of misappropriation of funds from the Ministry of Foreign affairs.

Furthermore, two of it's Directors, none other than the Presidenr of the NGO are the ones who have been claiming to be Doctors.

If it wasn't bad enough that these people are helping themselves to state, private and EU money, then it's hardly surprising when you find out that whilst working for the CDC and being part of the state mechanism, they are also in charge of the main organisation which opposes everything the state says and does- (primarily themselves). . .

They have been in charge of non legal projects which exposed people with HIV/Aids to DNA sampling in bars and clubs with people who aren't even medically qualified or trained and providing questionnaires which claim to be anonymous when clearly by nature they aren't.

These and many other issues are currently under investigation by the authorities and expose this sector and many in it here in Greece. The help people need is to go to the people not those using it as a hostage for self funding and fake prestige.

Having been fighting to highlight this for over 5 years now I'm appalled to see how many International organisations allow this and do nothing when notified of this, and was shocked when members of other ACTUP's globally did nothing or chose to resort to hostile abuse for questioning their affiliation with such pathetic behaviour as exhibited by the so called 'HIV/Aids welfare groups' who demand action and help.

Where is it when people come to you for help? What do they do when people do try and help. . . ?

If this is one of the characteristics of the mindset of many connected with this then it's no wonder why public opinion and help is waning for them when these and many other NGO's clearly have many faces they hide behind and who choose to openly support criminal behaviour and such low moral activity within their groups.

Please feel free to find out about the contribution made by the Greek CDC and ACTUP here in Athens.

I came here from the UK and worked with them for a year before it was clear that this was just a front for abusing peoples civil liberties here in Greece, and since became embroiled in trying to expose a lie which has left a trail of wreckage for many who put their trust in them.

Vicki Bee

I'm glad someone's doing this. I used to work on the ambulance and in Trauma Care as a Paramedic, and I couldn't understand why all this stupidity was going along totally unchecked. Sometimes being perpetrated by people who claim to be health care workers, who should already KNOW better. That's the REAL confusion, watching your own colleagues acting that way.
My Unit Commander said he didn't see anything that you could do about it, or he saw very little we could do to stop it. So I sort of accepted what he said but never fed into it.
I'm glad someone's actually ABLE to do something to stop it.

Teresa Young

Pea Ridge Arkansas - Current news report: School Official: Kids Kicked
Out Because Of HIV “Risk” To Others. Why is Arkansas behind the times
and how can our schools still do this? Here are the local news articles, and
because-of-hiv-risk-to-others/ As a concerned parent, I am appalled at
this! Is there anything that can be done?


While you at it on donating blood, how about you include all of us military types who spent tours of duty in the United Kingdom who can't give blood because of eating food there that may have contained "mad cow disease" i spent 4 years in England and because i might key word "might" develop MCD one day i can't give blood. It is now going on 20 years and multiply that time the number of people who spent time there! we could fill up the blood banks.
So again, put this up there with your hiv issue and blood.

Thank You

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