March 06, 2014

Answering the Call

Answering the Call was the ABA Young Lawyers Division’s 2005-06 National Public Service Project now carried on by the ABA AIDS Coordinating Committee. Answering the Call raises awareness of legal issues affecting people with HIV/AIDS and encourages state and local bar affiliates and individual young lawyers alike to help address those issues, whether by establishing an HIV/AIDS pro bono program, participating in a local AIDS fundraiser, or contacting their local AIDS legal services organizations to learn about the organizations’ needs and provide assistance.

Working in tandem with Answering the Call, the AIDS Legal Services Initiative seeks nationwide implementation of HIV Legal Check-Up, a diagnostic legal needs assessment program in which an attorney provides a brief consultation to identify the legal needs of someone living with HIV/AIDS and refers him/her to appropriate resources. HIV Legal Check-Up can be tailored to the needs of any community, be it a large urban setting with an existing AIDS legal services provider or a rural community with few resources for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Both Answering the Call and the AIDS Legal Services Initiative respond to a 2001 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guideline urging health care providers to refer HIV-positive patients to legal services for counseling on preventing discrimination by preserving their confidentiality — a core principle behind HIV Legal Check-up. By demonstrating that the law prohibits discrimination and that legal services are available to enforce the law, HIV Legal Check-up can encourage people who fear discrimination to come forward for testing, which is a key to HIV prevention. Lawyers therefore have a crucial role to play not only in assisting people with HIV/AIDS, but also in preventing the further spread of this deadly pandemic.

To view related materials and learn how YOU can answer the call, visit the ABA AIDS Coordinating Committee website.