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PRACTICAL MATTERS: LEGAL RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS-FEDERAL LAWS THAT APPLY TO HIV INFECTION

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects all citizens of the United States against discrimination on grounds of race, sex, creed, color, or handicap. Handicap includes AIDS, and people with AIDS are consequently protected from discrimination. This antidiscrimination law applies to all service providers and organizations—employers, providers of health care, and providers of social services—that receive federal funds either directly or through state and local agencies. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 extends federal protection against discrimination to all people with HIV infection; and this newer law applies to all service providers and organizations, regardless of whether they receive federal funds or not.     Your rights to employment under federal law include protection against discrimination in recruitment, hiring, job assignment, sick leave, or other benefits. Your rights to health care include protection against discrimination in services offered by hospitals, chronic care facilities, or other health care providers. Your rights to social services include protection against discrimination in receiving welfare, Medicaid, Medicare, and other social service programs. Additional information about civil rights under federal law may be obtained by calling the Equal Opportunity Specialist in the Office for Civil Rights, United States Department of Health and Human Services, in Philadelphia, at 215-596-5195.     People who feel that their rights under the federal antidiscrimination laws have been violated should file a complaint within 180 days with the Office for Civil Rights, United States Department of Health and Human Services, P.O. Box 13716, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101, or call 215-596-6109. Complaints should include     your name or the name of the person filing, the complaint on your behalf;     the service provider or organization that is the subject of the complaint;     a statement that the complaint is based on HIV infection as the basis for a handicap;     a description of the complaint;     the time of the incident;     a description of any attempt to resolve the complaint;     a telephone number where you can be contacted for follow-up information.     The representative of the Office of Civil Rights will begin an investigation. If discrimination is found, the Office of Civil Rights will ask the service provider or organization to correct the complaint voluntarily. If this request is unsuccessful, the service provider or organization may have its federal funding terminated, or other legal action will be pursued. If the complaint is not covered by law, the representative of the Office of Civil Rights will attempt to refer the complaint to the appropriate agency.*197\191\2*

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