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Plastic surgery and hiv
Jun 29, 2013

Can a plastic surgent refuse to provide me with hes or her services even if im perfectly healthy to have the procidure?

Response from Ms. Douaihy

Dear writer, thank you for the question.

Did you have the ability to pay for the plastic surgery procedure? Was the procedure routine and one that the surgeon had requisite expertise and ability to perform? If so, AND you were refused solely because of your HIV status, you were probably discriminated against due to of your disability. HIV qualifies as a disability in this context.

Without knowing all of the facts, refusal of plastic surgery services (as long as you met other requisite pre-procedure criteria like ability to pay) based singularly on your HIV status is unlawful under federal and most state laws. If you find the right attorney, a lawsuit may 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 or plastic surgeon's office) from refusing to treat a person solely based on their disability.

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 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 plastic surgeons 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!

American Bar Association



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