Monday, April 28, 2008

HIV an issue with Foreign Service (State) and Peace Corps


HIV infection has been an issue for federal employment overseas (regular and volunteer) many times, because some countries will not allow HIV-infected people from outside to work there.

The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund (LLDEF) litigated in 2003 in behalf of Lorenzo Taylor, who had been turned down for state department employment in the Foreign Service because he told them about HIV positive status. (Their link on this case “Taylor v. Rice” is here. ). However, recently the State Department has begun a policy of looking at HIV status on a case by case basis in Foreign Service assignments, probably because of pressure from the litigation.

However, now there are new stories about issues within the Peace Corps. Jeremiah Johnson was terminated from the Peace Corps after testing positive for HIV in Kiev while on a Russian Language Program. The ACLU posts his termination papers here (PDF): “365” has a story on his case “Peace Corps Fires Man with HIV” here.

The Peace Corps is supposed to consider these on a “case by case” basis, partly to comply with the 1973 Rehabilitation Act. As with Foreign Service, advances in the effectiveness in anti-HIV drugs should make overseas employment much more realistic.

Stephen Barr has a “Federal Diary” column in the Business Section, p D1 of The Washington Post, D1, Monday April 28, 2008 “For Volunteer, Early Exit Adds To Disease’s Pain,” link here.

I considered volunteering for the Peace Corps in 2002, after my “retirement,” but found that I didn’t have the volunteer experience in volume sufficient for an effective application. In 1988, I was interviewed by Mitchell Systems in Washington DC for a position doing applications programming for the State Department’s Payroll System. I took a different position, and even then, I really didn’t want to have to worry about a security clearance. It is said to be much better now.

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