People with HIV/AIDS face a variety of legal problems related to their illness. The Health Justice Clinic is the only law office in North Carolina devoted exclusively to issues important to people with HIV, including Social Security and private disability, permanency planning for children of HIV-infected parents, end-of-life planning, insurance, privacy and discrimination.
The Health Justice Clinic has helped many clients gain some financial security and the peace of mind of knowing that their children have been planned for and end-of-life decisions have been made. We have helped clients fight overt discrimination. We have empowered HIV/AIDS clients and their caregivers by providing education on a statewide basis.
Our clients are among the neediest in North Carolina. All are poor, and many are very ill. They come from 52 North Carolina counties, including some of the most rural counties in the state. Most face a daunting array of challenges ranging from medical, to financial, to legal. For our clients, the obstacles to obtaining legal help are great. Illness, lack of financial resources (even for transportation), denial, and concerns about confidentiality make it difficult, if not impossible, for many indigent HIV-infected clients to seek legal help. The Health Justice Clinic works closely with medical clinicians and social workers to help clients access our services. We work closely with the service providers to make sure that we understand and meet our clients' needs. We also know that our clients are facing a life-threatening disease and we make every effort to quickly provide the service needed. The service providers with whom we work have come to rely on the AIDS Legal Project for the legal services it provides.
All services are free and students’ rewards are substantial. They gain valuable practical experience and legal knowledge, while at the same time making important contributions to the community and to their clients. Moreover, they are sensitized to the needs of poor people, people with HIV/AIDS, women and children, and people of color. Many students count their clinic experience as the most educational and meaningful of their law school career.