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Am I disabled enough...?

Apr 28, 2010

Q: Is someone who is HIV+ and has a diagnosis of AIDS a disabled person?

Q: If so, how is this disability characterized? Mild, Moderate, Severe?

Q: Does the characterization depend on the symptoms of the day?

I am trying to get a letter from my care provider, a PA, which states that I am a disabled person based on my diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, which would then allow me to be appointed to federal employment without competition (with other applicants) under what is known as Schedule A, 5 C.F.R. 213.3102(u). This PA, who works for the VA healthcare system, first told me that I was not a disabled person, and then when I pointed out that I was under the ADA asked me "what is the ADA?" OMFG! Finally it boiled down to you are not disabled enough. So if I am an asymptomatic HIV+/AIDS patient, how disabled am I? After all, I can not reproduce, my immune system is under attack, and death is eminent... not to mention the whole host of other issues that comes with dandy little virus.

What say you?

Response from Dr. Frascino


The disability issue is rather complex and there are various definitions. For instance, there is occupation-specific disability (for certain disability insurance policies), and then there is the Social Security disability, which basically means you are incapable of any type of gainful employment (flipping burgers at Burger King, writing inane policy for the Tea Party wingnuts, etc.). Regarding HIV/AIDS, ADA assures you can't be discriminated against if you have HIV/AIDS. From a disability perspective, there are HIVers who don't meet the "AIDS" diagnosis, but are medically disabled. Similarly there are folks who have AIDS but are not at all disabled.

Regarding your situation, I would suggest you talk directly to an HIV/AIDS physician specialist rather than the P.A. The specialist physician will be able to review your "whole host of other issues" to ascertain if they add up to the "disabled person" status required for your letter.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob

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