In response to a complaint filed by an HIV-positive individual alleging that he was denied emergency medical services by the City of Philadelphia, the U.S. Attorney General’s Office intervened and negotiated this settlement order. The complaint alleged that the plaintiff was denied services on the basis of his disability (HIV infection) in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and various state laws. This order resolving Smith’s complaint in response to emergency medical services personnel’s refusal to touch or lift him because of his HIV status illustrates possible non-monetary remedies for such conduct, and also how one person’s lawsuit can change the way a public institution behaves towards people living with HIV. In addition to providing monetary compensation in the amount of $50,000, the order requires the city to refrain from discriminating against anyone on the basis of their disability, implement a mandatory paramedic/EMT training program about HIV and infectious diseases, and certify that each paramedic has completed the training.
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.