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Trans woman sues pharmacy for revealing that she’s HIV-positive to her neighbours

Lily Wakefield December 2, 2019
HIV-positive trans woman

Bottles of antiretroviral drug Truvada. (Justin Sullivan/Getty)

A trans woman in Pennsylvania is suing a pharmacy for revealing her HIV-positive status to her neighbours, and causing her to experience stigma where she lives.

The woman, who is going by the name Jane Doe, was having her medication delivered to her apartment building by local pharmacy SunRay Drugs.

According to court documents, the medication included an HIV antiretroviral drug and medication for hormone therapy as part of her transition.

Doe had previously had medication delivered in the same way, to the mail area of her building, but on other occasions it had been in a brown paper bag with no indication of what was inside.

This time, however, SunRay Drugs had delivered the drugs in a bag stamped with her name, in bold and all caps, and the names of all of the medications.

The court document states: “Jane Doe has carefully kept her HIV status and gender history private, disclosing these sensitive facts only to her medical providers and closest friends.

“As her prescription medication information was visible to all who looked at the package, Jane Doe no longer knows who is privy to the health and personal information she had carefully kept private.”

Since the delivery of the package, and the disclosure of her HIV-positive status and the fact that she was trans, Doe said she had been shunned by her neighbours.

The document continued: “As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s disclosure, Plaintiff’s HIV status and gender history has become the subject of gossip among her neighbours.

“For example, on one occasion, Plaintiff overheard several neighbours discussing “the drag queen with AIDS” in the laundry room… Plaintiff’s previously friendly neighbours became cold and distant, avoiding her in elevators and common areas.”

It added that Doe was “experiencing stigma where she lives” and was “no longer comfortable and secure in her home”. She no longer socialises with neighbours or uses the pool, does her laundry late at night and enters the building through the garage.

She is being represented by the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania. According to the organisation’s website, a Pennsylvania state law – the Confidentiality of HIV-Related Information Act – “prohibits health-care providers and social service providers from disclosing HIV-related information” without permission.

Doe is asking for SunRay Drugs to declare that is violated the law, and to provide compensation for the emotional distress she faced after the disclosure of the information.

HIV stigma is still a huge problem, with shocking research this month showing that a quarter of millennials would avoid hugging someone with the virus. 

More: hiv status, HIV-positive, Pennsylvania, pharmacy, Trans

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