MISSION – Fighting against stigma and for the rights of the HIV community, the LACBA AIDS Legal Services Project (ALSP) has provided direct legal advocacy to low-income people living with HIV (PLWH) from the early days of the pandemic. Since it was founded in 1986 by the LACBA Barristers, the ALSP has provided direct one-on-one pro bono legal representation to thousands of people living with HIV including many women, seniors, immigrants and survivors of intimate partner abuse. Our services represent the invisible lynchpin that can help keep PLWH housed, access vital medical care, preserve their privacy, gain legal status and otherwise stabilize their lives.
THE NEED - Los Angeles County is home to the second largest community of people living with HIV (“PLWH”) in the U.S. – nearly 60,000 people, 12% of whom are women.
A recent needs assessment survey showed that 98% of PLWH reported they had a legal need in the past year and in fact, most people had more than one legal need in different practice areas.
Nearly a third of PLWH reported experiencing HIV-based discrimination in housing, employment and/or health care settings within the past five years, proving that HIV stigma continues.
With the help of highly motivated pro bono attorneys, The ALSP focuses on core HIV-related legal services:
- Estate planning - wills, powers of attorney and healthcare directives;
- Debt relief, including creditor harassment, medical debt and student loan defaults;
- Insurance - health, life and disability terminations and overpayments;
- Employment - HIV discrimination, FMLA leave, ADA accommodations;
- HIV Discrimination in healthcare and public access;
- Breaches of HIV confidentiality; and
- Immigration - U visas, naturalizations, DACA, adjustment of status.
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Become a Volunteer >
ALSP’s service delivery is all about leveraging the power of volunteers, whose legal skills and interests are matched with low-income clients in need of help whether it’s drafting a will, dealing with creditors, filing administrative complaints or filing for citizenship.
The ALSP can always use motivated and experienced volunteers, particularly immigration, consumer law, employment and disability rights attorneys. Please consider joining the panel by completing the online form. There is no obligation to accept a referral – the ALSP Project Director will follow up to discuss your interests and availability.
If you have questions, please call Laurie Aronoff, ALSP Project Director at (213) 833-6776.
FOR SERVICE PROVIDERS
Presentations, Workshops & Clinics
ALSP can arrange for free, on-site legal presentations and clinics for HIV service providers and their clients.
Topics can be tailor made to meet the needs of your agency and client base. Potential topics might include:
Advance Planning Documents (wills, power of attorney and healthcare directive)
Outstanding Tickets & Warrants
L-R: Laurie Aronoff, AIDS Legal Services Project Director, and award recipient, Diana G. Vasquez, sole practitioner
Solo practitioner Diana G. Vasquez settled a wrongful HIV testing case just before jury selection after almost four years of litigation. Diana is also an RN and worked for LA County Office of AIDS Programs and Policy. She went back to school to become a lawyer so she could do direct advocacy work.
In August 2014, the client, “DC” a young man of 26, went in for surgery at a public hospital to repair a broken jaw that he suffered during an attack. While DC was under anesthesia, there was an incident during the surgery and the hospital subsequently tested the client for HIV. DC was not informed after the surgery that he was tested for HIV, the test results or the nature of the incident. Four days later he was called by an unknown person at the hospital to see if he was “taking his HIV medication.” This call constituted the client’s notice that an HIV test had been conducted and he was positive - he was not provided with treatment options, counseling, or any other statutorily required information in the call.
DC was living with his father at the time. When he told his father what happened, his father promptly kicked him out of the house since he didn’t want to live with someone who was HIV+. Distraught, alone, homeless, DC moved to Washington state where fortunately, his mother and sister welcomed him. He got connected to HIV care, started attending a support group and found a job.
Diana’s office spent hundreds of hours to reach a very favorable settlement agreement just before jury selection overcoming two demurrers and one motion for summary judgement.
AIDS Legal Services Project partners with law schools, legal service agencies and community-based organizations. In recognition of our effective collaborations, the State Bar of California awarded ALSP and its partners a State Bar President’s Distinguished Pro Bono Service Award.
Shown from left to right: Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye; LACBA ALSP Project Director Laurie Aronoff; and former State Bar President Craig Holden.
Please support LACBA's AIDS Legal Services Project. We are as important to people living with HIV and AIDS today as we were 30 years ago.
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