Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act was the first civil rights law to focus on disabilities in the United States. It directly prohibits discrimination against those who have disabilities who are applying to be part of programs that receive federal funding or financial assistance. It was also the act that set the groundwork for the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Today, people who have HIV or AIDS are protected by the laws and acts that protect anyone with a disability. Interestingly, there could be many Americans who have illnesses without knowing it. Did you know that over 62% of Americans have never had an HIV test? That’s despite the fact that the CDC recommends that all people between the ages of 13 and 65 take the test at least once in their lifetime.
It’s believed that approximately 162,500 people in America are HIV positive but don’t know it. That only hurts attempts to stop the spread of the disease, because around 40% of new infections are thought to come from people who didn’t know that they were positive for HIV.
Discrimination often occurs because people don’t understand others or their disabilities. With such an obvious disconnect between Americans and HIV testing, it’s understandable that many people either haven’t been tested or don’t know someone with the disease.
It’s impossible to stop the spread of a disease when you don’t know who has it. So, those who are having unusual health symptoms should ask for this test and get tested. Don’t be afraid of discrimination due to your results, because discrimination based on a positive HIV test or because you have AIDS is against the law in the United States. If you are discriminated against, you’ll have the right to fight back in court — and the law will be on your side.