Fact Sheet: The Law and HIV/AIDS
December 1, 2000
HIV raises many legal-, financial-, and health insurance-related questions for both HIV positive individuals and their employers. Following is information that addresses the most common concerns related to these issues. You should consult with an attorney or a state AIDS organization for details.
Employers are not required to offer group health insurance. If your employer offers health insurance to all employees, you will qualify regardless of your HIV status. However, most health insurance policies have a pre-existing condition exclusion for the first 12 months of coverage.
Pre-existing Conditions and Portability
If you became HIV positive before your employment began, you must have insurance "portability" to use your benefits right away for HIV-related treatment. [Covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA)]
If you must leave your job for any reason, and if your company has more than 20 employees, the federal law known as COBRA allows you to keep your health insurance for 18 months after your job ends (longer if you become disabled).
Family Medical Leave Act
If you become ill, you are entitled to 12 weeks of protected, unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), provided you have worked for 12 months (and 1250 hours).
Discrimination In Employment -- Americans with Disabilities Act
Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), an employer cannot discriminate against an HIV positive employee. Also under this act and applicable state laws, your prospective employer cannot ask if you are HIV positive and cannot disclose your HIV status.
Once hired, if the employee requests, an employer must provide "reasonable accommodation" to assist the HIV-positive employee in performing his or her job.
AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP)
ADAP is administered by the states. It provides medications to HIV-positive individuals who have limited or no coverage from private insurance or Medicaid.
For more information on ADAP, go to www.hrsa.gov/hab/getting.html
For more information on all of these federal programs, call the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Press Office at (202) 690-6343 or visit the Gay Men's Health Crisis at www.gmhc.org
This article was provided by American Association for World Health. It is a part of the publication AIDS: All Men -- Make a Difference!.