Renewed Efforts In The Fight Against HIV

Last week’s announcement of Dr. Regina Benjamin as President Obama’s nominee for Surgeon General and the new fact sheet issued by the Department of Justice telling state licensing boards and occupational training schools that it is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act to bar people with HIV from such professions as massage therapy and home health care assistance, signals the beginning of the Obama Administration’s renewed focus on the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS.

HIV is considered a disability under the ADA, so any state licensing agencies or trade schools that bar people with HIV are in violation of federal law.  According to the new DOJ fact sheet, it is safe for people with HIV to work in these professions because there is no real risk of HIV transmission in these settings.  DOJ issued the fact sheet after HIV advocacy groups provided DOJ with many recent examples of people with HIV facing discrimination from state licensing boards and training schools, including cases of massage licenses being revoked, cosmetology students being expelled, and the revocation of foster parent licenses.  “The DOJ has sent a loud and clear message to the state licensing boards and occupational training schools that HIV discrimination won’t be tolerated,” said Catherine Hanssens, Executive Director of the Center for HIV Law and Policy.

Presuming Dr. Benjamin is confirmed as Surgeon General, many HIV advocates hope her personal history will continue the Obama Administration’s renewed efforts at educating the public about the prevention and transmission of the disease.  Dr. Benjamin lost a brother to complications from HIV/AIDS and has spoken publicly about the need for more robust education efforts. 

According to Rose Saxe, a staff attorney with the ACLU AIDS project, public misperception of the disease remains among the top challenges facing advocacy groups, and often fuels persistent discrimination against those with the disease.  “For far too long state licensing boards all over the country have been allowed to wreck havoc on the lives of people with HIV out of ignorance about how HIV is spread.  We’ve known for years that you cannot get HIV through a hair cut or a massage, yet state laws have kept many people from these professions.”

With this kind of renewed attention to the disease, including battling misperceptions about those affected by it, many advocates hope to stem the recent uptick in diagnosed cases.  At a minimum the steps taken by DOJ bring us closer to removing the stigma associated with the disease, putting those infected in the same light as others suffering from chronic, terminal conditions.

photo courtesy of thomaswanhoff via Flickr


Kiara Mont
Kiara Mont6 years ago

From the family of retro virus comes the most alarming infection that confronts people now a day. One of the common sexually transmitted infections is the HIV. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus that causes the AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). HIV kills the body’s immune systems. That is why the body becomes more susceptible to other opportunistic infections. Those with HIV/AIDS are also at an increased risk of developing certain cancers, neurological disorders, and a variety of other conditions.


Heather A.
Heather A7 years ago

Judy, your post may have been cut off because it exceeded the maximum number of characters it can contain. I just tried filling this box with letters to see what happened when you reached "0 characters remaining", and instead of stopping me from continuing, it just went on into the negative numbers. That's probably what happened to you.

Yoshimi S.
Justine H7 years ago

I am all for preventing HIV from spreading. I am a massage therapist who does NOT provide any sexual favors. In legitimate massage sessions, there is no possible way for bodily fluid to be trasmitted, and in massage classes, we are specifically trained to watch our for any visible sores and other skin conditions, not touch any area around genitalia or nipples, and course work also includes ethics. We are NOT prostitutes, and there is no reason why anyone with HIV should be barred from entering a nurturing and healing line of carreer where their experience with HIV can be a tremendous plus to help others. (FYI, I do not have HIV.) And the picture is preposterous because it connect massage/SPA with sex trade.

Judy Velsor
Judy Velsor7 years ago

Ah. . . . Freedom of speech . You see folks. As long as we think what they want us to think.say what they want us to say then it is ok.

Judy Velsor
Judy Velsor7 years ago

7-21-09 9:09 am please finish lettersent to youcare2

Judy Velsor
Judy Velsor7 years ago

are we being censored now? finish the letter please

Judy Velsor
Judy Velsor7 years ago

care 2 / please
Finish my statement please. Do not cut it off it is to the people about the MEDICAL.

Judy Velsor
Judy Velsor7 years ago

Are you aware along with this plan that Insurance is going up for houses $ 1200.00 yr., life, if you are able to afford, and car ins. $1500.00. The food is rising like helium, the phones . the fees alone are a bill. Cell phones and the like $ 75.00 plus. Cable/ if you are allowed some meager form of entertainment. is approx.$100.00.Then their is FOX NEWS that conveniently they were trying to stop afraid of the TRUTH FOX TELLS. YES THE TRUTH. Then Gas for the car. $100.00 and plus usually .House taxes. Some states thousands. Lawn serv. if you are ill you cannot do anything w/o help. try another $75.00 or more a month. The cost of clothing, school supplys, shoes, school lunches,charity giving, birthday gifts, newspapers & mags. Movies even cost a sm. bundle to go on a date. We do not have the luxury of going to the airport and flying to N.Y. to go to dinner and a show. We do not have custom clothes either. If lucky you may get walmart/ penneys/Target/ Sears etc.Think real hard cause when the steam roller starts it isn't going to stop folks. As for me and mine we have his number and it is not for you and me. right?Now there is another side to this "Population Control". Late term abortions/dying babies in a laundry room from botched abortions ( REFUSED HELP ). Let the old go w/o medical care. = deliberate death by withholding treatment. My last thing to say remember YOU never know when it is your turn to be sick. POPULATION CONTROL AT IT'S BEST . NO. MR. BARAC

Judy Velsor
Judy Velsor7 years ago

It all sounds well and good/ wait until the medical changes. You think they are gonna help anyone? Think again. There will be no money left for coverageThey gave it all to the big guys who are making 38 million dollars a day profit. Picture that. They could have given every 80,000.00 . All this talk of MEDICAL. Do not fall for it. It is same as all the other countries that have their people COME HERE FOR TREATMENT. The positively only way they can do it is condemn sick people to a slow source of medical that will kill any one that needs care or has a disease of any kind. It will be a catastrophe . Like OBAMAs' stimulus pkg. A very lg. waste of money and a go no where ,do nothing coverage. For 2 years I have done nothin' but listen to all the things Obama and his cronies said. Well I for one ,of thousands think he is not doing anything for you ,me, or the country. He has thrown us under a bus before. He makes fun of us. well now he wants to throw the well , the sick,the infirm under the wheels of a slow cement filled truck. If you are young think about your MOM and DADS . If you are old think long and hard. What promises has he ever kept. He has ONLY HIS AGENDA. How are people on social security supposed to pay for anything like he wants? to be cont'd.?

Ann G.
Ann G7 years ago