Through its medical-legal partnerships, SDVLP assists individuals with debilitating HIV/AIDS related conditions navigate complex administrative systems.
San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program (SDVLP)
February 1, 2015
For over 25 years, SDVLP has served as the sole free legal resource in San Diego County for persons living with HIV/AIDS. When SDVLP began working with HIV/AIDS clients, SDVLP staff and pro bono attorneys had to be well-versed in estate planning, end of life decision-making, and disability discrimination. Today, while the attorneys continue to assist with end of life planning for some individuals with HIV/AIDS, attorneys assisting clients are primarily lawyers with broad legal expertise representing and defending a diverse base of clients to ensure that a variety of fundamental human needs are met.They work for individuals with HIV/AIDS in their fight for safe and stable housing, food security, disability benefits, and other legal issues.
In disability benefit cases, SDVLP’s partnership with medical clinics provides more than just a safe, accessible place to obtain legal help. While twenty years ago an AIDS diagnosis was considered a disability, today the line is not so clear. As treatments for HIV/AIDS improve, individuals who once would have been entitled to benefits upon proof of diagnosis must prove their disabling conditions.
Through its medical-legal partnerships, SDVLP assists individuals with debilitating HIV/AIDS related conditions navigate complex administrative systems. For many, the disabling conditions that would qualify them for benefits are the very conditions that prevent them from successfully navigating the complex administrative system. For some, the side effects of HIV/AIDS treatment and related conditions prevent them from working even the most limited of jobs. For others, years of enduring the stigma related to living with HIV/AIDS at the height of AIDS discrimination, coupled with the stressors of mental illness, renders them unable to work. By working with medical clinics to help obtain or maintain a client’s monthly disability benefit, SDVLP serves as the barrier between health and the financial insecurity that could jeopardize it.
Thanks to dedicated legal staff, medical partners, and hundreds of pro bono attorneys willing to staff clinics and handle cases, SDVLP is able to partner with hundreds of San Diegans living with HIV/AIDS in their fight for health, housing, dignity and economic security each year.Tags: HIV/AIDS