HIV as a Disability Under Antidiscrimination Law

The meaning and role of "disability" in the context of antidiscrimination law is quite different than in public and private disability benefits programs, which, for the most part, exist to provide benefits to individuals whose disabilities are of a nature or severity to preclude full-time employment. The federal antidiscrimination laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act, are designed to protect those with HIV from discrimination in virtually every aspect of their life. In 2008, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) that made it easier for those with HIV to meet the definition of disability under the ADA (and, by conforming amendment, the Rehabilitation Act). In sum, under the ADAAA, people with HIV/AIDS can demonstrate that they are disabled simply by showing that their un-medicated HIV/AIDS substantially limits the functions of their immune system, i.e. to determine whether the normal functioning of an individual's immune system is substantially limited is determined by evaluating their health when not taking medication. 

This Resource Bank category includes court decisions and briefs that, in part, address how HIV is a covered disability under federal (and some state) antidiscrimination law; general overviews of federal disability law as applied to HIV; and federal guidelines that discuss the interpretation of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as relevant to coverage for people with HIV.