J.G., a man living with HIV, had worked as a hair stylist for over 20 years when he relocated to New York State and began applying for a New York State Cosmetology license. He completed most of the application and just needed a medical clearance form.  He, therefore, went to a popular chain urgent care center in New York City.

The center’s doctor would not provide the clearance, however, because he did not think he could honestly state that J.G. did not have any “communicable or infectious diseases” that would pose a risk to the health and safety of clients, as required by the form.  J.G. explained that HIV is not classified as “communicable” or “infectious” disease in New York, and that there is no risk of HIV transmission through hair cutting in any case.  The doctor spoke to other doctors in the practice, but they backed up the doctor’s decision not to sign the form.

J.G. was devastated, concerned that he would not be able to work in the profession to which he had dedicated most of his adult life. He also felt shame for being HIV positive and considered not disclosing his status to future medical professionals. Through an online search, J.G. found LAC and spoke to a paralegal.  LAC gave J.G. copies of the New York laws that list “communicable diseases” and “infectious diseases” so he could bring it back to the urgent care center to prove that HIV is not on either list.  LAC also gave him information about a U.S. Department of Justice case against a cosmetology school that refused admission to a person because of his HIV status.  LAC offered to speak to the urgent care center, but J.G. wanted to try to advocate for himself one more time.

J.G. returned to the urgent care center and asked for the compliance officer.  He left the materials and the next day received a call to come pick up his completed medical clearance!  LAC was pleased to have empowered J.G. to be his own best advocate.

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