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Author Topic: Foreign Service HIV ban dropped (in February)  (Read 2162 times)

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Offline lydgate

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Foreign Service HIV ban dropped (in February)
« on: June 11, 2008, 12:00:42 AM »
Apologies if this is old news, already posted; I couldn't find a post in the archives. So in February the State Department finally ended their ban against HIV-positive officers entering the Foreign Service. I know someone who was affected by this ban, so this piece of news came as a particularly welcome surprise in wintery Iowa. Story below:

The State Department on Feb. 15 ended its longstanding policy of automatically rejecting candidates for the U.S. Foreign Service if they test positive for HIV, saying officials will now assess each candidate on a case-by-case basis to determine if their HIV status enables them to be deployed for overseas assignments.

The policy change came less than two weeks before a lawsuit filed by a gay man who was denied entry into the Foreign Service because of his HIV status was scheduled to go to trial in U.S. District Court in Washington.

“Now people like me who apply to the Foreign Service will not have to go through what I did,” said Lorenzo Taylor, a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Taylor, who speaks three languages and easily passed the government’s stringent application process to become a Foreign Service officer, received an initial job offer from the State Department in 2003. But officials rescinded the offer after a medical examination showed that Taylor was HIV positive.

The State Department cited its existing medical clearance policy that barred people with HIV from the Foreign Service on grounds that they could not receive proper medical care in certain diplomatic assignments, which would take them to developing countries with less advanced health care facilities. The policy required that Foreign Service officers be eligible for deployment anywhere in the world.

Under the new policy, the requirement for worldwide deployment still stands. However, it now recognizes that many people with HIV remain healthy and fully capable of worldwide deployment and that each Foreign Service applicant with HIV should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Taylor’s lawsuit charged that the blanket policy of automatically rejecting anyone with HIV violated the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits federal government agencies from engaging in employment discrimination based on disability.

Attorneys with Lambda Legal, a gay litigation group that represented Taylor, argued in court briefs that the State Department had been hiring Foreign Service officers with other serious illnesses after assessing their ability to be deployed in all overseas assignments.

“Under the new policy, they recognized the new HIV medicine and its effectiveness in maintaining the health of large numbers of people,” said BeBe Anderson, Lambda’s HIV Project Director. “They are now treating HIV like any other medical condition.”

Taylor, meanwhile, said that after challenging the old policy for nearly five years, he decided not to seek admittance into the Foreign Service as a condition for an out-of-court settlement of the lawsuit, which the two sides reached earlier this month.

He had been employed as a public health analyst with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services in Washington at the time he applied for a Foreign Service post. He remained in his HHS job during the years the lawsuit wended its way through the court system.

In early January, he accepted a transfer to the HHS offices in San Francisco and decided not to pursue a Foreign Service career.

“I was, and still am, interested in serving my country as a Foreign Service officer,” he said. “However, that outcome was not possible through this litigation,” he said. “Someone else will have to be the first to take advantage of the policy change, and that’s fine with me.”
Her finely-touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

George Eliot, Middlemarch, final paragraph


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