Following a request by Lambda Legal and allies, the U.S. Justice Department informs state institutions that preventing people with HIV from pursuing certain professions is a violation of federal law.
On July 16, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a clear message to state licensing boards and occupational training schools that discrimination against people with HIV will not stand. The fact sheet issued by the DOJ informed various institutions that preventing people with HIV from entering professions like barbering, massage therapy and home health care assistance violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The new guidance came, in part, as a response to requests from Lambda Legal and our sister organizations; our request was included in a 15-point HIV civil rights policy blueprint Lambda Legal was key in developing for the Obama administration’s first 100 days. The groups also provided the DOJ with a list of several recent examples of people with HIV facing discrimination from state licensing boards and training schools.
According to the DOJ fact sheet, because HIV is considered a disability under the ADA, any state licensing agencies or trade schools that bar people with HIV are in violation of federal law. The fact sheet concludes that it is safe for people with HIV to work in these professions: “circumstances do not exist for the transmission of HIV in a school or workplace setting, including those involving massage therapy, cosmetology, or home healthcare services.”