person with HIV or AIDS is someone's son or daughter, brother or sister,
parent or grandparent. We cannot allow discrimination of any kind to
blind us to what we must do."
Clinton, May 20, 1996
Signing of the Ryan White
CARE Act Reauthorization
against people living with HIV or AIDS violates the human rights of individual
Americans and undermines our efforts to prevent and treat HIV infection. The
extraordinary stigma that has been attached to HIV disease hampers the ability
of people living with HIV and AIDS to live full lives free of fear.
also undermines efforts to prevent and treat HIV infection and bring the epidemic
under control. Fear of discrimination and stigma causes many people not to seek
testing for HIV; thus many remain unaware of their HIV status and go without
the care that could help them live longer, healthier lives. Opportunities to
educate people are also lost as people avoid prevention programs because of
the stigma associated with HIV.
fourth goal of the National AIDS Strategy is to fight discrimination on all
fronts, including employment, access to health care, education, housing, service
establishments, and other areas covered by Federal law, and to provide national
leadership in erasing the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS.
Record of Accomplishment
the early years of the AIDS epidemic, protection of the civil rights of people
living with HIV and AIDS was sporadic, at best. Individual lawsuits were the
first line of action. By the late 1980s, however, the Federal government began
to respond more aggressively with actions including:
of the Harkin-Humphrey Amendment to the Civil Rights Restoration Act, clarifying
that Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 applied to people with
contagious diseases, including HIV; and
Enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA),
which protects individuals living with HIV and AIDS and people perceived
to be at risk for HIV from discrimination in housing, employment, and public
he took office, President Clinton has directed relevant agencies to make enforcement
of the civil rights of people living with HIV and AIDS a priority. Key actions
enforcing the ADA
by the Justice
Department, the Equal
Employment Opportunities Commission, and the Department
of Health and Human Services;
enforcing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as it pertains to
recipients of Federal funds such as hospitals, nursing homes, and social
the effort to repeal the "Dornan Amendment," which would have
required the discharge of all military personnel who are living with HIV;
an HIV/AIDS education program available to all Federal workers; and
- Using the
Presidential "bully pulpit" to speak out repeatedly against discrimination
against people with HIV and AIDS. In December 1995, the President hosted
the first ever White House Conference on HIV and AIDS, bringing to the White
House more than 300 people from around the country to discuss with the President
the impact of the epidemic on their lives and communities.
Future Opportunities for Progress
are four key ways that the Federal government is maintaining its commitment
to meeting the goal of ensuring that people living with HIV are not subject
to protect the civil rights of people with HIV and AIDS must be ever-vigilant.
The Federal government will continue to exhibit strong leadership on this
issue through its enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act and
public condemnation of discriminatory acts or statements. Active steps
are being taken to prevent discrimination in the areas of employment,
access to health care, education, housing, and service establishments.
A joint effort by the Department of Health and Human Services and the
Department of Justice aimed at access to nursing homes is a significant
step forward in protecting the rights of people living with HIV.
government is examining existing policies related to the exclusion of
people living with HIV from Federal employment. The Director of the Office
of National AIDS Policy is working with Federal Agencies to examine the
respective policies of each to determine whether they comply with Federal
public health guidelines.
will continue to oppose, in the strongest terms possible, efforts by the
Congress to discriminate against people living with HIV and AIDS.
of government have an obligation to use the power of their elected office
to speak out against acts or words of discrimination against any group
of people. President Clinton and members of his Administration have used
and will continue to use their positions to oppose discrimination against
people living with HIV and AIDS.
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