Unfortunately, as someone with HIV, you may face discrimination. Whether you're being refused housing, refused treatment from your gynecologist, or a school won't admit your child with HIV, there are things you can do in these situations. You are not powerless. You and you children should have the same rights, regardless of your HIV status.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reports common problems reported by people with HIV/AIDS:
- denial of medical treatment
- violations of privacy (HIV status illegally revealed)
- loss of parental custody or visitation
- discrimination in the workplace
- refusal of admittance into nursing homes and residential facilities
Having HIV doesn't mean your professional life ends. But it will be vital for you to understand your rights under your employer's leave policies and health and disability benefits. Disability benefits give you a portion of your pay if you are sick for a long time, after your job's regular sick time runs out. It is also your employer's responsibility to make a reasonable accommodation to meet your needs. This is an adjustment to the job, like a modified work schedule. Remember — you are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA gives federal civil rights protections to people with disabilities, and makes sure you get equal treatment for everything from public services to jobs. You cannot be discriminated against because you're HIV positive.
Keep in mind that it is your choice to tell your employer that you're positive. An employer can only request information from you that is necessary and job-related. If you do disclose your HIV status, you have the right to complete confidentiality. This information must be kept apart from general personnel files as a separate, confidential medical record, available only under limited conditions.
Regardless of your health status, it's important to understand your health insurance. So if you get sick, you know what to expect. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) helps people with HIV/AIDS get and keep their health insurance. HIPAA has these rules:
- limits exclusions for pre-existing conditions
- doesn't let group insurance plans deny insurance to you or charge you more because a family member had or has a health problem
- guarantees that certain people can buy their own health insurance plans if not covered by their job
- guarantees that you can renew your health insurance regardless of any health problems you have