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Frequently Asked Questions About Legal Issues

June 25, 2002

Are People With AIDS Considered Handicapped?

Frequently Asked Questions About Legal Issues The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990. The ADA extends federal protection against discrimination for persons with disabilities in the private workplace and in places of public accommodation. The Act considers any form of HIV disease to be a disability covered under the law.

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What Are the Laws Regarding Immigration and HIV/AIDS?

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) requires HIV antibody testing as part of the medical examination required for all non-immigrants over the age of 15 years who apply for visas. Non-immigrants applying for permanent residence who test HIV-positive are considered "excludable and deportable."

Although travelers applying for a non-immigrant visa (temporary stay) are not required to take a medical exam, HIV antibody testing may be required at the port of entry if there is reason to believe an individual is infected (e.g., the presence of medication such as zidovudine [AZT]). Non-immigrants infected with HIV who wish to visit the United States may apply for a 30-day waiver to see relatives, conduct business, attend conferences, or seek medical treatment.

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The Department of Health and Human Services issued a proposed rule on January 23, 1991, removing AIDS from the list of diseases for which infected non-immigrants may be excluded from the United States. The new list took effect on June 1, 1991. Elimination of sexually transmitted diseases was proposed because they are not transmitted by casual contact, through the air, or from food or water, nor will an infected person in a common or public setting place another person inadvertently at risk.

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What Are the Laws Regarding Knowingly Infecting Someone With HIV?

In some states, persons who are aware of their infection but who knowingly put their sex partners at risk or intentionally attempt to infect someone are subject to criminal penalties.

For more information regarding the laws in your state, you may wish to contact your state health department.

What Are the Laws Regarding Privacy for Persons With HIV?

Virtually every state has passed laws dealing directly with HIV or AIDS. These states have enacted statutes, regulations, or policies that protect HIV-related information either directly or indirectly. Laws regarding obtaining HIV/AIDS information, how it is protected, and under what circumstances confidential medical information is releasable varies among states.

For more information regarding the laws in your state, you may wish to contact your state health department.

This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

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