Does Rhode Island have laws protecting people with HIV from discrimination?
Yes, Rhode Island has enacted two separate laws that prohibit discrimination against people with HIV or AIDS.
- First, Rhode Island has an anti-discrimination law that explicitly relates to HIV. This law provides that “[n]o person, agency, organization, or legal entity may discriminate against an individual on the basis of a positive HIV test result, or perception of a positive test, in housing, education, employment, the granting of credit, public accommodation, or delivery of services. . .” (RI ST 23-6.3-11)
- Second, people with HIV are protected under laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. This includes the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),2 and analogous Rhode Island disability & antidiscrimination laws. (42 U.S.C. § 12101)
Disability antidiscrimination laws protect people with AIDS or who are HIV-positive, even if they are asymptomatic and have no outward or manifest signs of illness. They also protect people who are regarded or perceived as having HIV.
Under the ADA, but not Rhode Island law, these laws also prohibit discrimination against a person who does not have HIV, but who “associates” with a person with HIV — such as friends, lovers, spouses, roommates, business associates, advocates, and caregivers of persons with HIV.