Yesterday, an HIV positive Australian man won a discrimination suit against a medical clinic that refused to treat him for erectile dysfunction on account of his HIV status. The man, whose name is being withheld, paid the clinic $1995 for treatment, but soon after his treatment began the medical staff determined that he was no longer eligible for treatment because he posed a risk to public health. The company’s chief executive said the general consensus with the other doctors was not to prescribe injectables for men who were HIV-positive. The Australian Equal Opportunity Division of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal found that with the use of condoms, HIV positive men pose no risk to public health. DUH!
The Tribunal ordered that the patient be refunded the full amount he had paid them for the treatment, and awarded them to pay him $30,000 as compensation for the discrimination. The defendant will appeal the ruling, according to the company’s CEO. Read the story from the Australian press here.
I started doing HIV discrimination cases in the early 1980s – and many of them were based in the same kind of HIV-based stigma cloaked in bad public health justification. It’s outrageous to see the same thing continues today. Back then, it was hard to convince a judge to second guess the scientific opinion of a doctor. Thankfully, this is less the case today. Not always the case, but the medical profession is now far less professionally insulated from accountability to disability discrimination laws, and stigma and ignorance get called out for what they are with much greater frequency.