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Case arguing the right for a man living with HIV to receive care after being rejected from six nursing homes because of his HIV status


Cecil Little suffered two consecutive strokes and brain aneurysms, leaving him on life support and in a coma for one month. He recovered to some extent but still required a feeding tube and assistance with walking and bathing. When it was time for Little to be discharged from the hospital, Little’s mother and sister began making plans for his long-term care. Six nursing homes, all of which initially accepted Little into their care, declined after learning he had HIV. Little’s mother and sister were forced to place him in a facility 80 miles away from their home and travel that distance to visit him on a near daily basis. Lambda Legal filed discrimination complaints with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights against the six nursing homes for refusing Little care. The complaints argued that these care providers violated the federal Rehabilitation Act prohibiting facilities that receive federal funds (such as Medicare or Medicaid) from discriminating against people with disabilities (including HIV). Soon thereafter, one of the six nursing homes, Kentwood Manor, agreed to admit Little after all. The remaining matters were successfully settled.


People living with HIV continue to face discrimination in employment, health care, insurance, immigration, parenting and other areas of life. Lambda Legal won the first HIV discrimination lawsuit in the nation, and since then we have helped maintain and expand protections across the country for people living with HIV.

Lambda Legal’s Impact

Because of Lambda Legal’s intervention, one of the nursing homes reversed its discriminatory stance and Little was reunited with his family.

    • June 2003 Six nursing homes refuse to care for Little because he has HIV.
    • July 2003 Lambda Legal files complaints against the six nursing homes that refused to care for Little.
    • October 2003 One of the nursing homes agrees to care for Little. Private counsel ultimately settles the remaining claims.