We’ve fought the good fight for twenty-five years. We’ve battled stigma and advocated for people living with HIV and AIDS in courtrooms and classrooms across the Commonwealth; we’ve helped shape policy, drafted HIV-related law and authored key publications.
After 2 and ½ decades of service, the fight continues. As we march forward, here’s a glance back at 25 AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania highlights.
We hope you appreciate our work and continue to support the important history that has been laid by this vital effort.
1. 1988 AIDS Law Project brings suits against Pennsylvania physicians for secret HIV testing.
2. 1989 AIDS Law Project files suit against a funeral home that allowed a family to mourn over an empty coffin rather than put their relative, who died of AIDS, inside.
3. 1990 AIDS Law Project files suit against a dentist who refused to treat patients with HIV and AIDS.
4. 1993 In response to a lawsuit filed by the AIDS Law Project, Philadelphia Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Office finds that limiting health insurance coverage based on HIV/AIDS violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
5. 1994 AIDS Law Project’s lawsuit on behalf of an HIV-positive man denied emergency medical services resulted in the first formal Justice Department settlement a dentist who refused to treat patients with HIV and AIDS.
6. 1995 AIDS Law Project sues the 12th Street Gym for AIDS discrimination.
7. 1995 AIDS Law Project case of Doe vs. Rite Aid/SEPTA argued for the confidentiality of employee health and prescription records. As a result of the case, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the constitutional right to privacy in one’s prescription records and Rite Aid agreed to not give employers in Pennsylvania information on AIDS-related prescriptions.
8. 1999 The Pennsylvania Legislature adopts the Standby Guardianship Law, proposed and drafted by the AIDS Law Project’s Parents with HIV/AIDS Project.
9. 1999 The AIDS Law Project negotiates a financial settlement for a Delaware County man who was fired from his job, after his partner was diagnosed with AIDS.
10. 2001 An AIDS Law Project client, a North Philadelphia man with AIDS who was refused access to a bus because the driver didn’t believe he was disabled, is financially compensated and the bus company adopts an anti-discrimination policy.
11. 2001 An AIDS Law Project client, an HIV-positive Peruvian man living in South Philadelphia, is granted asylum in the United States, sparing him deportation to an antagonistic regime.
12. 2002 The AIDS Law Project sues a bus company whose driver attempted to deny service to a group of HIV activists traveling to a rally in Harrisburg.
13. 2003 The AIDS Law Project wins a financial settlement from a dentist who refused to treat a man with AIDS.
14. 2004 The AIDS Law Project wins a liver transplant for an Altoona man for whom Med- icaid denied coverage. HIV is removed from the state’s list of “life-limiting conditions” as a result. In 2010, the AIDS Law Project wins another liver-transplant case for a client with HIV, this time for a client on Medicare.
15. 2006 The case of M. Smith v. Life Partners draws international media attention to the work of the AIDS Law Project. The company had threatened to stop paying the client’s health insurance premiums, because she lived longer than the insurer expected. The case is settled in 2009 for $250,000, allowing M. Smith to purchase her own health insurance.
16. 2006 AIDS Law Project persuades Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs not to enforce regulations that conflict with the Americans with Disabilities Act preventing people with HIV/AIDS from working in a number of fields, including barbering and cosmetology.
17. 2006 The AIDS Law Project settles a second Americans with Disabilities Act suit against the City of Philadelphia Emergency Medical Technicians, in which the City agrees to pay significant damages to the client, adhere to a nondiscrimination policy and train all personnel on infection control and HIV/AIDS transmission.
18. 2008 The AIDS Law Project negotiates a settlement in the unlawful firing of a food-service worker who has HIV, decisively calling attention to the reality that the federal list of diseases that can be transmitted by food handlers does not and never has included HIV.
19. 2009 AIDS Law Project works with the city to develop a protocol that allowed clients to take advantage of an almost completely untested Philadelphia ordinance that exempted domestic partners from having to pay city tax on property transfers.
20. 2010 AIDS Law Project wins more than $60,000 for a client wrongfully kicked out of a personal-care home because she had HIV.
21. 2010 AIDS Law Project’s lawsuit on behalf of a surviving partner results in a financial services company paying the retirement money of a deceased doctor to his longtime partner, as he had intended, instead of his ex-wife, from whom he had been divorced for 25 years.
22. 2011 AIDS Law Project persuades the state of Pennsylvania to clarify regulations confirming protections for HIV-positive workers and job applicants subject to occupational and professional licensing boards.
23. 2011 AIDS Law Project wins a settlement for an HIV-positive single mother of four fired from her job at a snack-food manufacturer because her supervisors erroneously believed she was forbidden from working around food if she had HIV.
24. 2012 The AIDS Law Project negotiates a financial settlement with a national healthcare staffing firm that took back a job offer from an HIV-positive nursing assistant after learning he had HIV. The firm also agrees to change its hiring policies.
25. 2012 A 14-year-old and his mother, both our clients, receive $700,000 from the Milton Hershey School in a federal AIDS-discrimination lawsuit settlement after the school refused to admit him solely because he had HIV.
For more, check out the Spring 2013 edition of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania’s newsletter, Good Counsel.
None of our accomplishments this year would have been possible without your dedication to our cause and your financial support. You’ll recall our work for an HIV-positive honors student that resulted in a $700,000 settlement from the Milton Hershey School after the school wrongly denied him admission based on his HIV status. We also worked on almost 3,000 other legal matters.
Those living with HIV and AIDS still experience discrimination in matters that healthy people take for granted — health care, employment, and housing. You’re the reason we can be there for them.
Now in the Archive: Executive Director Ronda B. Goldfein, Esq. talks about the Hershey case, the AIDS Law Project’s other work, and raises tough questions in this interview originally recorded for World AIDS Day 2012.
Go to http://www.edgeonthenet.com/index.php?ch=features&sc=worldaidsday2012 and click on Ronda’s name in the left hand column for a pop-up video.