On this World AIDS Day, the Department of Justice reconfirms its leadership role in combating discrimination against people with HIV and AIDS. We remain committed to realizing our mission under President Obama’s landmark National HIV/AIDS Strategy, to address the stigma and discrimination still experienced by those living with HIV/AIDS.
People with HIV and AIDS are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which gives federal civil rights protections to persons with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, and state and local government services. Earlier this year, the Justice Department issued letters to the attorneys general of all 50 states, as well as U.S. territories to request their assistance in addressing the illegal exclusion of individuals with HIV/AIDS from occupational training and state licensing.
Under the ADA, the Justice Department entered into a settlement agreement with Modern Hairstyling Institute Inc., a private cosmetology school in Puerto Rico, for delaying the admission of an HIV-positive individual. That settlement agreement requires the school to remove questions about applicants’ HIV/AIDS status and to promptly enroll the aggrieved individual in its cosmetology program.
Last year, the Justice Department reached a consent decree with Wales West LLC, owner and operator of Wales West RV Resort and Train and Garden Lovers Family Park in Silverhill, Alabama. It was alleged that Wales West LLC violated Title III of the ADA when it unlawfully denied full and equal access to an RV park to a child and his family because the child has HIV. Specifically, the complaint alleged that Wales West LLC, upon learning that a guest family’s two-year-old child has HIV, banned the family from using the common areas of the RV resort, such as the swimming pool and showers. Under the terms of the consent decree, Wales West LLC will establish policies, procedures and training practices to ensure that patrons and their families are not discriminated against on the basis of disability.
In commemorating World AIDS Day, Attorney General Holder stated:
“The Department of Justice, through its Civil Rights Division, will continue to vigorously enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and the Fair Housing Act, which protect people with the virus from discrimination in virtually every aspect of their daily lives. We will continue our outreach and education efforts directed both at informing those with the virus of their rights to non-discrimination under federal law and at dispelling the myths, fears and stereotypes about the virus that help to perpetuate unlawful discrimination. We will continue to work with our federal partners under the Strategy toward the common purpose of ensuring that no American feels it necessary to hide his or her status out of fear that disclosure will lead to unlawful discrimination.”
World AIDS Day 2011 is a powerful reminder of this call to action, and the Justice Department will continue to lead the way in combating stigma and discrimination, improving education and outreach, and doing our part to realize President Obama’s vision under the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. To learn more about our enforcement efforts, please visit www.ada.gov/aids/ada_aids_press.htm.