March 31, 2011
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is warning US states and territories that trade schools and licensing agencies must not discriminate against people who are HIV-positive or have AIDS.
In DOJ's letter, Deputy US Attorney General Thomas Perez called on state and territorial governments to review admission and licensing criteria for trade schools and licensing agencies. The letter instructs governments to "identify the existence of any criteria that unlawfully exclude or discriminate against persons with HIV/AIDS, and to take the steps necessary to bring all such programs into compliance" with federal law.
"It is medically established that HIV can only be transmitted by sexual contact with an infected individual, exposure to infected blood or blood products, or perinatally from an infected mother to an infant during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding," a DOJ fact sheet said. "HIV cannot be transmitted by casual contact. Thus, circumstances do not exist for the transmission of HIV in a school or workplace setting, including those involving massage therapy, cosmetology, or home health care services."
The letter was prompted by reports of applicants being denied admission to public and private trade schools due to their HIV/AIDS status. DOJ noted its recent agreement with a privately run hairdressing school in Puerto Rico that had denied admission to an HIV-positive applicant. The school paid a small fine and agreed to stop requesting that applicants divulge their HIV/AIDS status.