State Government Reports
about Infectious Diseases
This section contains articles concerning infectious
diseases at the State and Federal Levels.
Contains articles of infectious diseases at the State
and Federal Levels
"The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear a case
brought by a Georgia dental hygienist who was demoted when his employer
discovered he was HIV-positive. Citing protection from the Americans
with Disabilities Act, Spencer Waddell filed suit against Valley
Forge Dental Associates in Atlanta. Citing a potential threat to
patients, a federal district judge dismissed his complaint in 1999.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit backed that decision
in December 2001. Waddell appealed to the high court three months
The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, which has been representing
Waddell in the suit, says the court's rejection leaves an apparent
conflict in the ADA law.
In 1998, the Supreme Court ruled that a dentist may not refuse
to treat a patient with HIV, writing that "little in life is
risk-free" and that the mere existence of risk does not automatically
constitute a "direct threat" to others.
Waddell's demotion was justified, said both the federal and appellate
courts, because there was a chance Waddell could transmit HIV to
patients. Under an exception to the ADA, employers may discriminate
if a person's disability poses a threat to other people.
Lambda has long insisted in this case that the discrimination Waddell
experienced was based on uncredible and indefensible bias. Lambda
noted Waddell's boss thought HIV could be transmitted through sweat.
Though no case of a dental hygienist infecting a patient has ever
been recorded, the two courts nonetheless concluded Waddell was
a potential threat.
"In effect," wrote Lambda, "the Court of Appeals
standard requires that, to even make it to trial, Waddell must first
prove that something that has never happened in the past cannot
possibly happen in the future, an impossible burden for any plaintiff."
Lambda said by this logic, "a host of imaginable disasters
could be hypothesized to exclude virtually any individual with a
Dentists and hygienists who adhere to universal precautions mandated
by the dental industry run virtually zero risk of transmitting the
virus. Waddell's challenge to his demotion was supported by the
American Dental Association and the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission, among others." High Court Declines HIV Disability
'The Associated Press reports Republican Rep. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma
is seeking support for a bill that would require states to alert
people to possible contacts with HIV-infected partners.
Coburn, who is also a physician, said the bill's provisions will
protect those who are not infected and speed the delivery of new
treatments for those that are. The Associated Press says the American
Medical Association supports the measure.
One of the bill's provisions is the creation of a national HIV
reporting system. States would be required to report every new HIV
diagnosis to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. 26 states
already supply this information to the CDC, the rest report only
new AIDS cases." from the article New Bill Would Force Disclosure
of HIV Status
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