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Discrimination By Providers

Not all healthcare providers in the U.S. are equipped to provide specialty care to people living with HIV. But if a provider can’t provide treatment for your HIV disease, that person should refer you to someone who can.

Providers are generally required by law and/or professional ethics to care for you, regardless of your HIV status, if the care you need is within the scope of their license to practice. For instance, if you are seeing a new dental provider for a routine dental check-up, the dentist cannot discriminate against you and refuse to perform the exam just because you are HIV-positive.

Office for Civil Rights

In the U.S., there are multiple Federal regulations to protect you from discrimination by providers on the basis of your HIV status. Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination by providers who accept Federal funds or other forms of Federal assistance. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits state and local government agencies from discriminating on the basis of HIV status, regardless of whether they accept Federal funds.

For more information, see OCR’s Your Rights As A Person With HIV Infection Or AIDS.

While some healthcare providers and organizations do not receive financial support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, your rights may still be protected under other governing bodies and Federal regulations. For more information, see OCR’s Civil Rights Enforcement through Other Agencies.

Filing a Complaint

If a healthcare provider is violating the law and discriminating against you on the basis of your HIV status, it is important to pursue your discrimination complaints. The Office of Civil Rights, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides a comprehensive site to help you begin the complaint process. For more information, see OCR’s How to File a Complaint.

Last revised: 11/02/2010