Philadelphia sued for alleged HIV discrimination

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com December 05 2003 12:00 AM ET

The AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania on Monday filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia on behalf of an HIV-positive man who claims he was discriminated against by city emergency medical technicians because of his HIV status, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. John Gill Smith says that in February 2001 he made a 911 call to report chest pains and that EMT personnel were sent to his house. But Smith says that once he told the health workers that he is HIV-positive, one refused to treat him, and another forced him to cover his face before assistance would be offered. The lawsuit also claims the EMTs would not assist Smith to the waiting ambulance or allow him to lie down in the vehicle.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages, a court order prohibiting future discrimination against people with HIV, and mandatory training of all EMTs working in the city on HIV transmission and safety issues. "Our goal is to make sure that EMTs respond appropriately to people with HIV/AIDS," said Ronda Goldfein, executive director of the AIDS Law Project. City officials were unavailable for comment.