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two doctors refused services
Feb 15, 2012

2 chiropractors have refused to treat me due to my HIV status, they directly told me this stating that they didn't have the proper gloves or facilities to treat people like me. I am having difficulty locating a lawyer to help pursue this issue. Is there grounds to sue based on this type of discrimination?

Response from Ms. Douaihy

Dear Writer,

It indeed sounds like you were discriminated against based on your disability (HIV qualifies as a disability in this context). What happened to you is unacceptable, unjustifiable and illegal under federal and most state laws. If you find the right attorney, a lawsuit could be brought under the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"), asking for money damages as compensation. The ADA is a federal law that makes it illegal to discriminate against people because of their disability. The ADA prohibits a place of public accommodation (like a doctor's or chiropractor's office) from refusing to treat a person solely based on their disability. A chiropractor or doctor saying she or he "doesn't have proper gloves to treat people with HIV" is not good cause for refusal! This is because for many years health care professionals have been using universal precautions as standard practice precisely to avoid differential treatment of patients. To make a case for discrimination, you have to show the "causal nexus" or direct link between your disability and the refusal of care. In addition to the ADA, most states have anti-discrimination statutes to ensure all people, despite their ability, can access services they need. Something else you should know is that anti-discrimination laws have "statutes of limitations," meaning there is a deadline to file your case. To find a good attorney you I advise you first to contact a local HIV/AIDS services organization close to your home. They might be able to refer you to a free legal services organization or put you in touch with a trusted private lawyer. The American Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Directory (check their website) is also a great resource. Last but not least, if litigation doesn't seem appealing you may file a complaint with your county or state Human Rights agency, which can also secure you money damages and send a message to these chiropractors that they cannot discriminate. To find out if your area has a Human Rights agency check out your state's official website. I wish you good luck and hope you find relief you so deserve!



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