Philadelphia Settles HIV Discrimination Suit

Philadelphia Settles HIV Discrimination Suit

The city of Philadelphia settled a civil lawsuit over alleged discrimination by an emergency medical technician against an HIV-positive man.

The city has agreed to pay the man $50,000, and give mandatory training to its medical personnel on the treatment of people with HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.

The man, John Gill Smith, claims that the EMTs provided him with substandard care after they discovered his HIV status.

The Claim

According to the suit, John Gill Smith suffered severe chest pains and made a call to 911 in Feb. 2001. When the emergency medical personnel that responded learned Smith was HIV-positive, one of the EMTs left the house, and one more said to Smith, “Cover your face or I’m not going to help you,” the suit said.

The suit further claimed that the EMTs refused to help Smith get into the ambulance, forcing Smith’s partner, and one of his friends to assist him. The EMTs would also not allow him to lie down inside of the ambulance, the suit claims.

Not the First Time

There was a similar case filed by the AIDS Project against Philadelphia in 1993, on behalf of a student who was refused care when city rescue staff learned he had AIDS.

That suit was also settled, and as part of the settlement, mandatory aids education was required for thousands of EMTs and firemen.

The Settlement

The city has agreed to pay Smith $50,000, and require twice-yearly training on treating people with HIV/AIDs for its emergency staff. The city will also be required to provide documentation to the court proving that the training was provided.

Executive director of the Aids Law Project of Pennsylvania, Ronda B. Goldfein, said that Smith “feels a tremendous relief at finally getting this settlement. This was never about money. That was about a very scary thing that happened to [Smith] that [Smith] didn’t want to happen to anybody else.

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