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December 3, 2004

HIV-positive man sues clinic that refused treatment

Cincinnati--A hemorrhoid treatment center is being sued in federal court over its refusal to treat a man with HIV.

A Cincinnati man identified only as �John Doe� claims the Hemorrhoid Relief Center of Cincinnati and its medical director Dr. Joseph Reising refused to treat him on January 16 because of his HIV seropositive status.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati October 29, seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as demand for the end of discrimination against patients with HIV and AIDS

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission found September 9that it was �probable� that the clinic discriminated against Doe.

Doe says in the complaint that Reising, after learning he is HIV-positive, told him that he could not treat him because the equipment, which becomes soiled with the patient�s blood and fecal matter during the procedure, cannot be adequately sterilized. Reising wrote �HIV+, cannot treat� in Doe�s chart.

The procedure Doe sought is called infrared photocoagulation treatment, or IRC, a non-surgical hemorrhoid remedy which he learned about from the clinic�s television commercials.

During the treatment, the doctor uses a device that creates an intense beam of infrared light. When this is focused on the hemorrhoid it causes blood to clot in the vein, cutting off its blood supply.

For their September ruling, the civil rights commission considered testimony from the equipment manufacturer, Redfield Corp., and three medical experts that the device can be sterilized after contact with HIV and other contagious viruses. It then concluded that Reising�s denial of the treatment was �merely pretext for [HIV status] discrimination.�

Such discrimination is a violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Ohio law.

The clinic is part of a chain with 15 locations in seven states. Its Ohio facilities include Columbus and Cleveland in addition to Cincinnati.

Randomly calling six of the facilities, including the one being sued, the Gay People�s Chronicle was told by all that patients with AIDS are welcome.

Doe also contends that Reising violated medical ethics, both for refusing to treat him and the apparent failure to follow universal precautions, which would treat all patients as if they have a blood-borne communicable disease.

The patient is represented by Cincinnati attorneys Alphonse Gerhardstein and Jennifer Branch.

The clinic and Reising are represented by attorney Christopher Riegler of Indianapolis.

The attorneys also represented the parties before the civil rights commission.

The court has not yet set a trial schedule.


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