June 27 is National HIV Testing Day, a day dedicated to encouraging people to get tested for HIV. An estimated 1.1 million people in the United States live with HIV, and approximately 18% do not know they have the virus. The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice urges people to find a National HIV Testing Day event near you and, “Take the Test, Take Control!”
The Department of Justice is committed to fulfilling the goals of President Obama’s landmark National HIV/AIDS Strategy and to combating discrimination against people with HIV and AIDS. Last year, the Justice Department launched the Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative, a partnership between the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s offices across the nation, to target enforcement efforts on removing barriers to health care for people with HIV. Under this Initiative, the Justice Department reached four settlements in a six-week period with medical providers who were discriminating against people because they have HIV.
The Justice Department has also reached several landmark settlements regarding the rights of persons with HIV and AIDS, including the largest monetary settlement recovered by the Department for someone who was the victim of HIV discrimination. In September 2012, the Justice Department reached a settlement with the Milton Hershey School of Hershey, Pennsylvania. The agreement resolved allegations that the school violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by refusing to consider a child for enrollment because he has HIV. Under the settlement agreement, the school was required to pay $700,000 to the child and his mother; adopt and enforce a policy prohibiting discrimination and requiring equal opportunity for students with disabilities, including those with HIV; and provide training to staff and administrators on the requirements of the ADA.
The Justice Department has taken many important steps to educate the public about HIV discrimination. Last year, the Justice Department issued a document entitled “Questions and Answers: The Americans with Disabilities Act and Persons with HIV/AIDS,” a 14-page publication that explains the rights that people with HIV have under the ADA. Over the past year, the Justice Department has also continued to conduct outreach across the country to organizations serving people with HIV and AIDS in an effort to educate the public about these issues.
The Justice Department remains committed to fighting discrimination and stigma against people with HIV. To learn more about our work, please visit www.ada.gov/aids.