RE: Policy Regarding Students with HIV, Sally Friedman, Legal Action Center (2017)

Letters and Other Advocacy Documents

This letter from the Legal Action Center to Long Island University addresses a discriminatory policy with respect to students living with HIV enrolled at the university’s Surgical Technology Certificate Program. It may provide guidance to people living with HIV wishing to enroll in medical education or training programs.

The letter states that by warning students living with HIV that they will be unable to participate in the clinical portion of the program, must disclose their HIV status to the program director, are at heightened risk of serious complications from any exposure to infectious diseases and infectious agents, and “consider other paths,” school policy violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and New York State and City Human Rights Laws.

Highlighting that the ADA only permits differential treatment of individuals with disabilities when necessary to avert a direct threat to the health or safety of others, the letter outlines current, objective medical and scientific evidence—recognized by the New York State Department of Health, the American College of Surgeons, and the American Academy of HIV Medicine—that students living with HIV pose negligible transmission risk to potential patients. It also lists enforcement actions from the federal government that illustrate the kinds of policies and practices that may violate the ADA.

The university rescinded the discriminatory policy after receipt of the letter.