Lambda Legal Releases Report on HIV Stigma and Discrimination in Advance of World AIDS Day
"It's been 30 years since the CDC reported the first cases of HIV, and yet we have not come nearly far enough in educating the public about HIV and in reducing stigma and discrimination."
"We urge advocates, educators and policy makers to look to this report about the lives of those with HIV and use it to inform their decisions."
In advance of World AIDS Day (December 1), Lambda Legal released an evidence-based report on the continuing stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV to policy makers and advocates.
New York, N.Y. -- "It's been 30 years since the CDC reported the first cases of HIV, and yet we have not come nearly far enough in educating the public about HIV and in reducing stigma and discrimination. Fear and ignorance about HIV and discrimination against people living with HIV remains a serious problem that both marginalizes people and poses barriers to treatment and care," said Scott Schoettes, HIV Project Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal. "We urge advocates, educators and policy makers to look to this report about the lives of those with HIV and use it to inform their decisions. All levels of government, organizations and individuals who serve and advocate for people living with HIV must work to increase the public's knowledge about the ways HIV is -- and is not -- transmitted; eradicate policies and practices that discriminate against people based on their HIV status; and enforce antidiscrimination laws to protect the civil rights of people living with HIV."
The National HIV/AIDS Strategy -- issued by the Obama Administration this past summer -- points out that stigma and discrimination continue to fuel the HIV/AIDS epidemic in this country. The United States' first-ever national strategy in the fight against HIV/AIDS makes specific recommendations for actions that should be taken to reduce or eliminate the types of harms described in Lambda Legal's report. In the coming year, Lambda Legal will continue to press the federal government, as well as legislators and policymakers at all levels, to address these critical issues as they implement the national strategy.
Highlights from HIV Stigma and Discrimination in the U.S.: An Evidence-Based Report:
- Lambda Legal's 2009 survey of barriers to health care among LGBT and HIV communities in the United States found that nearly 63 percent of the respondents who had HIV reported experiencing discrimination in healthcare.
- A Kaiser Family Foundation report shows that the percentage of people who incorrectly believe that HIV can be transmitted by sharing a drinking glass is actually higher now than in 1987, and the percentage of people who incorrectly believe that transmission can occur by touching a toilet seat actually rose between 2006 and 2009.
- People with HIV are subject to prosecution and/or harsher sentencing for conduct that is not criminal. For example, in 2009, Daniel Allen was charged with violating a Michigan bioterrorism statute outlawing the use of harmful biological substances, based on allegations Mr. Allen has HIV and bit his neighbor during a fight. That charge was dismissed after his attorney and HIV advocates, including Lambda Legal, explained to the court that the science behind HIV transmission did not support such a charge.
- Discrimination against people living with HIV as they seek to access elder care occurs throughout the country. Dr. Robert Franke, a 75-year-old retired university provost and former minister, was abruptly ejected from an assisted living facility in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2009 because he has HIV. Representing Dr. Franke and his daughter, Lambda Legal sued the company operating the facility, alleging violations of the ADA and the federal Fair Housing Act, as well as similar state antidiscrimination laws. This case recently settled.
View a complete copy of HIV Stigma and Discrimination in the U.S.: An Evidence-Based Report.