Annual Update 2009 - HIV-AIDS Docket

July 20, 2009

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Discrimination

Jeremiah Johnson
Jeremiah Johnson, who was terminated by the Peace Corps when he tested positive for HIV.
Peace Corps: Advocated for Peace Corps Volunteer Jeremiah Johnson, terminated when found to have HIV; no effort was made to accommodate his disability; our representation led to new policy guaranteeing that volunteers with HIV will not be automatically terminated

State Department: Represented man slated to supervise security for embassy overseas through contractor retained by State Department; his employment was terminated because of his HIV status (pending)

Alabama: With ACLU’s National Prison Project, advocated for equal access of all inmates to work release programs, prison jobs, sports and recreational opportunities, and all other programs

Arkansas: Represented inmate with HIV in his suit against prison for repeated sexual assaults; prison didn’t believe his claims because of his HIV status

Arkansas: Assisted person living with HIV after he received substandard medical care

Maryland: Filed friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of father with HIV who was determined by family court to be an unfit parent because he experiences periods of illness and has sporadic lapses in taking his medication; appellate court upheld unfit parent determination

Michigan: Represented woman denied enrollment at a medical weight loss clinic when she disclosed that she has HIV; reached settlement that included monetary damages and revision of clinic’s policies

Michigan: Advocated for woman with HIV hired to provide in-home respite care services, whose employer stopped placing her with clients citing concerns about HIV transmission; agency agreed to start placing her and to do staff training about HIV transmission

Missouri: Represented individual with HIV who was denied law enforcement job because of HIV status; settlement included monetary damages, reinstatement, and good change in employer’s policies

Ohio: Successfully advocated for inmate with HIV denied proper medication

Rhode Island: Favorably settled case involving worker fired from a food service job because of HIV status

Wisconsin: Filed friend-of-the-court appellate brief on behalf of woman with HIV who was denied waitressing job; a federal appeals court upheld the district court’s dismissal of her case based on the Americans with Disabilities Act, reasoning (incredibly) that the employer had discriminated against her because she had HIV but that she was disabled not by HIV but by AIDS

Privacy & Autonomy

California: Unsuccessfully opposed bill to eliminate the requirement of informed consent for HIV testing

Idaho: Assisted in case on behalf of Idaho AIDS Foundation which lost funding when it refused federal authorities unfettered access to their records containing client personal information; federal district court ruled that government’s actions violated privacy rights

Illinois: Lobbied unsuccessfully to end the requirement that school principals be notified when a student tests positive for HIV

Mississippi: Helped form grassroots advocacy effort aimed at persuading the Mississippi Health Department to tighten privacy protections and to improve its services for African American men with HIV

Nebraska: Lobbied against bill that provides that if an individual consents to have blood drawn for any reason, he or she is assumed to have consented to an HIV test; bill was enacted

New Jersey: Lobbied unsuccessfully against bill providing for routine HIV testing of pregnant women without written consent and for mandatory testing of all newborns

New Mexico: Assisted inmate whose HIV status was disclosed without his consent to other inmates; helped facilitate his parole after he was compelled to go into protective custody

New York: Worked with the governor’s office and legislative leaders against HIV testing bills that jeopardize informed consent principles; managed to remove harshest constitutional problems

Rhode Island: Helped defeat proposed legislation that would have greatly expanded HIV testing while reducing confidentiality protections and limiting counseling

South Dakota: Testified against state legislation to force individuals with HIV who are convicted for “intentionally exposing” others to the virus to register as sex offenders; despite its potential for abuse the bill passed Vermont: Worked in coalition to turn back measure that would enable involuntary testing of accident victims for blood-borne illnesses; under amended bill that passed, the only testing allowed without consent is the testing of deceased victims

Prevention & Harm Reduction

Federal government: With ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project and Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, filed case against the government for having Trafficking Victims Protection Act funds be distributed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; USCB does not permit subgrantees to provide trafficking victims with the full range of reproductive health services including emergency contraception and condoms

Illinois: Fought for measure that would have allowed doctors to give medication and informational material to patients with STDs for their partner(s) without examining their partner(s); failed to pass Senate Public Health Committee

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