An HIV-positive patient sued his dentist under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) and the AIDS Assistance Act in response to the dentist's refusal to provide routine dental care to repair a broken tooth because of the patient’s HIV status. The dentist also inappropriately disclosed the plaintiff's HIV-status to a third party uninvolved in the patient’s care. In defense of his refusal to treat the patient, the dentist claimed that his staff felt unsafe and that treating an HIV-positive person required special equipment and cleaning practices. The complaint highlights the flaws in the dentist’s arguments, pointing to the American Dental Association’s position that standard practices are completely adequate to protect dentists and dental workers from risk of HIV infection through patient contact, and that it is medically and scientifically unwarranted and unethical for dentists to refuse to treat individuals solely because of HIV status. The complaint asks the court to declare that the dentist’s practice of refusing treatment to HIV-positive patients is discriminatory, prohibit the dentist from engaging in such discrimination in the future, and award monetary damages and attorney’s fees to the patient.
The Center for HIV Law and Policy challenges barriers to the rights and health of people affected by HIV through legal advocacy, high-impact policy initiatives, and creation of cross-issue partnerships, networks, and resources. We support movement building that amplifies the power of individuals and communities to mobilize for change that is rooted in racial, gender, and economic justice.