Lawsuit: AIDS Healthcare Foundation Outed HIV Status of Patient to Neighbors

The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is one of America's most respected nonprofits dedicated to helping HIV-positive patients, offering care and services to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. But a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by the Brea-based law firm of Greer and Rineer alleges that AHF ruined a patient's life by neglecting one of HIV care's most fundamental moral codes: never violate the privacy of a patient.

Originally suing on nine counts ranging from negligence to public disclosure of private facts, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and good ol' fraud, the plaintiff, identified only by the initials DF, alleged that the AHF:

"...delivered Plaintiff's HIV medication to neighbors living in Plaintiff's apartment complex...without authorization and without Plaintiff's consent. Due to the  HIV/AIDS related stigma in Plaintiff's local community, she has gone to great lengths to protect the confidentiality of her HIV Status. Indeed, Plaintiff's own children and family members are unaware of her HIV status. Therefore, Plaintiff has never authorized anyone to accept medications on her behalf, for fear that her HIV status may be revealed."

The lawsuit claimed that the AHF admitted to delivering the medication to a neighbor to investigators with the Office of Civil Rights. Afterwards, neighbors let other neighbors know about the plaintiff's HIV status, leading to "death threats ('We kill bitches with AIDS') and constant verbal and physical assaults, which prevent her from leaving her apartment." In one instance, the lawsuit alleges, she was beat unconscious at a McDonald's after her assaulters announced "people with AIDS were not allowed in their neighborhood."

In addition, Greer and Rineer claims that AHF refuses to release the plaintiff's full medical records so she could discover "who her medications were delivered to, dates of unauthorized deliveries and number of unauthorized deliveries."

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AHF, unsurprisingly, denies any culpability, and sought dismiss the lawsuit. But in a Sept. 9, 2015 hearing, LA Superior Court Judge Suzanne G. Bruguera ruled that the plaintiff's negligence and professional negligence complaints could stand, while dismissing the fraud and violation of health and safety code complaints.

A trial is scheduled for this summer. Should be fun!

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