Washington Law Review


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not state whether it prohibits discrimination against individuals who are infected with HIV but asymptomatic. Some courts have held that the language of the ADA is unambiguous and does not cover asymptomatic HIV as a disability because the virus is not an "impairment" that substantially limits a "major life activity." Other courts have looked behind the statutory language and found that Congress intended to protect asymptomatic individuals with HIV because the virus impairs one's ability to procreate and/or engage in sexual relations. This Comment argues that asymptomatic individuals with HIV are indeed protected under the ADA, but that the analytic framework thus far employed by the courts is flawed. Asymptomatic HIV is a protected disability not because it is independently debilitating, but because the prejudices and fears of others may prevent HIV-infected persons from fully participating in society. The ADA was enacted to prevent exactly this type of discrimination.

First Page