The authors of this paper propose a concept they call "Public Health Legal Services," which "encompasses those legal services provided by private sector attorneys to low-income persons the outcomes of which when evaluated in the aggregate using traditional public health measures advance the public's health." The idea is that providers of legal services can and should be an integral part of the team working to improve the health of individuals and, ultimately, the public. In some situations, intervention by a legal services provider could promote better health when, for example, the condition of an asthmatic child improves because the legal services provider forced the landlord to abate the mold that was causing the child's symptoms in the first place. In turn, by rectifying the mold situation, others in the building benefit. The paper focuses on (1) how legal services may be considered a public health tool, (2) the history of legal services for the poor, (3) concrete examples of initiatives in Los Angeles, Boston, and New York, and (4) the challenges of public health legal services in practice. The publication is included here to support HIV legal services advocates' arguments about the connection between access to legal services and improved health outcomes for people with HIV.
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.