December 1st is World AIDS day, which aims to bring awareness to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, to unite people worldwide in the fight against HIV, to support those with HIV, and to commemorate those who have lost their lives due to an AIDS-related illness. Globally, it is estimated that 36.7 million people are living with HIV. In the United States alone, approximately 1.1. million people are living with HIV. Having an HIV-positive status can impact multiple aspects of a person’s life, including their ability to find housing and to be treated fairly by housing providers.
Unfortunately, high levels of discrimination against people with HIV still exist due to prejudice and widespread misinformation about how HIV is spread. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, which includes those who are HIV-positive or have been diagnosed with AIDS. Therefore, a housing provider cannot discriminate against a person with HIV/AIDS or if a person is incorrectly assumed to have HIV/AIDS.
Housing discrimination can take many forms, some examples* to look out for include:
“Sorry we just rented the last unit.”
“You look fine to me. Why are you getting disability payments?”
“I’m sorry, but we don’t rent to people with AIDS; the other tenants are just afraid.” or “I don’t rent to gay men because they usually have AIDS.”
“You must obtain liability insurance (or pay a pet deposit) for your service animal.”
“You may not install a ramp to the porch or grab bars in the bathroom.”
“It’s against the rules to have another person live with you, even though there is enough room and the person is necessary to help you with your health needs.”
“Persons with AIDS need not apply.”
*examples pulled from LegalAidOK.org.
If you or someone you know feels that they have been discriminated against due to their HIV status (or perceived status), please contact GNOFHAC at (504) 596-2100.