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Bulletin

Immediate Release

Contact:  HHS Office for Civil Rights
1-800-368-1019

Surgeon agrees to treat HIV-positive patients after losing federal funding

A California surgeon has voluntarily entered into a Post-Termination Compliance Agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to restore his eligibility to receive federal funding from HHS.  The surgeon’s funding was terminated after OCR and the HHS Departmental Appeals Board concluded that he intentionally discriminated against an HIV-positive patient by refusing to perform needed back surgery, in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  The Agreement requires comprehensive training by a certified continuing education provider on the treatment of patients with HIV and requires implementation of a new nondiscrimination policy. 

OCR enforces multiple civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex and religion by health care and human service providers.  Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, which includes HIV, by recipients of federal financial assistance.  When OCR determines that there has been a violation of the law, OCR seeks voluntary compliance and provides technical assistance to health care and human service providers.  Providers may take a number of corrective actions to ensure compliance, including changes to a policy, provision of a service, restoration of lost benefits, or a notice to clients and employees that steps have been taken to comply with a federal statute or regulation.  

This enforcement action supports the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the National HIV Care Continuum, federally-coordinated efforts to reduce new HIV infections, increase access to care, improve health outcomes, and eliminate HIV-related stigma and discrimination.  Through the National HIV Care Continuum Compliance Review Initiative, OCR proactively provides technical assistance to hospitals and health care providers in cities with the highest rates of HIV/AIDS.  This Initiative helps ensure that health information is protected and individuals have meaningful access to necessary services.

Read the HHS Departmental Appeals Board Decision and the Post Termination Compliance Agreement  

To learn more about non-discrimination and health information privacy laws, your civil rights and privacy rights in health care and human service settings, and to find information on filing a complaint, visit us at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/office.