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Feds Rule for Barbers, Masseuses with HIV

Aspiring barbers, masseuses, and home health care aides cannot be denied professional licenses because they have AIDS or HIV, federal authorities said Thursday.

The Justice Department is advising state authorities that it is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act to stop someone with the HIV virus from getting such licenses or not admitting them to occupational training schools.

For instance, some states require cosmetologists be free from contagious, communicable or infections diseases. The government says that type of regulation is outdated and was not intended to bar people with HIV.

The original goal of such a rule was to prevent the spread of tuberculosis and other diseases, not prevent people with the HIV virus from working in certain fields. Because HIV is not spread through casual contact, barring people with the virus from such professions is discriminatory, officials said.

"People with HIV or AIDS should not be denied access to their chosen profession because of outdated laws or unfounded stereotypes and fears," said Loretta King, the acting head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

The Supreme Court has found people with AIDS or HIV are covered under the law barring discrimination against people with disabilities.

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