No Justice, No Peace (Corps)
BY HIV Plus Editors
July 01 2008 12:00 AM ET
The Peace Corps claims to make 'real differences in the lives of real people.' Well, the organization certainly made a difference in the life of 25-year-old HIVer Jeremiah Johnson, he says, by discriminating against him because of his serostatus.
Johnson was abruptly booted from his post teaching English in Ukraine when he received a positive HIV antibody test result. In a letter to Johnson, Peace Corps officials said he was given an automatic medical termination because of the organization's ban on HIV-positive volunteers.
Johnson has joined with the American Civil Liberties Union to pressure the Peace Corps to change its prejudicial policy. ACLU officials sent a letter to the Peace Corps citing a federal appeals court decision that it is illegal for the State Department to bar HIVers from Foreign Service positions. In light of that decision, the ACLU demanded the Peace Corps lift its similar ban on HIV-positive staff members.
Officials declined to comment on the ACLU letter but issued a written statement saying the organization cannot discuss medical matters concerning its volunteers and employees.