MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently sent a letter to the owner of the Wales West RV park in Silverhill, Ala., demanding that it stop discriminating against people with HIV by barring them from using the swimming pool, showers and other common areas of the park without a letter from a doctor.
Despite the fact that Dick and Silvia Glover’s two-year-old foster son Caleb was looking forward to the train ride, the owners of Wales West RV park banned the child from use of the facility because he is HIV positive.
“This kind of ignorance and prejudice is unacceptable at this point in the HIV epidemic,” said Olivia Turner, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. “After more than two decades of studying the disease, we know that you can’t catch HIV by swimming next to someone with the disease or using a public shower.”
According to media reports, Dick and Silvia Glover’s two-year-old foster son Caleb was banned from the pool and other common areas of the RV park by its owner Ken Zadnichek after Silvia mentioned to a desk clerk that the boy had HIV. Although Caleb had been looking forward to taking a ride on the park’s two train rides, the couple had no choice but to leave the park.
“Mr. Zadnichek should be ashamed of himself for picking on a defenseless two-year-old,” said Christine Sun, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s AIDS Project. “Mr. Zadnichek claims that he was merely trying to protect other campers, but he had nothing to protect other campers against. Ignorance about the disease is no excuse for prejudice.”
The letter sent by the ACLU explains that discrimination against people with HIV is illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and demands that the park owner send written assurances to the ACLU that the park will no longer discriminate against people with HIV.
The letter also notes that the ADA prohibits businesses from imposing eligibility requirements, such as requiring a doctor’s note, that screen out people with disabilities. The letter quotes information from the Alabama Department of Public Health making it clear that, “[y]ou do not get HIV from an HIV-infected person by working together, playing sports, shaking hands, hugging, closed-mouth kissing, sharing drinking glasses, eating utensils or towels, using the same wash water or toilet, swimming in the same pool, or coming in contact with their sneezes, coughs, tears or sweat.”