January 15, 2021 - The Justice Department filed lawsuits on Thursday alleging that two obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) doctors in Bakersfield, California, refused to provide routine medical care to a patient on the basis of her HIV status, in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“The Justice Department continues to work to end discriminatory and stigmatizing treatment of people with HIV based on unfounded fears and stereotypes,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Daukas for the Civil Rights Division. “Medical providers have a legal obligation under the ADA to provide individuals with HIV equal access to healthcare services, and are in the best position to ensure all involved are adequately protected.”
The complaints, filed in the Eastern District of California, allege that Dr. Chibuike Anucha, MD, PC, and Dr. Umaima Jamaluddin, MD, in unconnected incidents, refused to provide routine OB/GYN care to a patient due to the patient’s HIV status. According to the complaint against Dr. Jamaluddin, the doctor refused to allow the patient to make an appointment for preventative care, including a Pap smear, when she learned of the patient’s HIV status during intake. According to the complaint against Dr. Anucha, the doctor, during a consultation for uterine fibroids, told the patient that she needed a Pap smear, but the doctor said he would not perform it because he does not treat high-risk patients, including patients with HIV. The lawsuit alleges that a Pap smear is a routine medical procedure, and that an individual with HIV is not high-risk for a Pap smear such that referral to a specialist would be necessary.
Title III of the ADA prohibits public accommodations, including doctors or other professional offices of health care providers, from discriminating against people with disabilities, including those with HIV. These prohibitions include denying individuals with disabilities the ability to benefit from the public accommodation’s goods or services.
For more information on the Civil Rights Division, please visit www.justice.gov/crt. For more information on the ADA, please call the department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or visit www.ada.gov. The complaint for Dr. Anucha can be viewed here: https://www.ada.gov/anucha_comp.html. The complaint for Dr. Jamaluddin can be viewed here: https://www.ada.gov/jamaluddin_comp.html.