# 57 III-3.

8000 March 2, 1993

The Honorable Tony P. Hall U.S. House of Representatives 2264 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515-3503 Dear Congressman Hall: This letter responds to your inquiry on behalf of your constituent, Ronald D. Martin, who asks whether the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires his fitness center to provide membership to an individual who has HIV disease. The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities having rights or obligations under the Act. This letter provides informal guidance to assist your constituent in understanding the ADA's requirements. However, it does not constitute a legal interpretation or legal advice, and it is not binding on the Department. Gymnasiums, health spas, and other places of recreation are places of public accommodation covered by the ADA. For further discussion of the definition of a public accommodation, see section 36.104 of the enclosed title III regulation at pages 35594 and 35551. As a place of public accommodation, a fitness center may not deny an individual, on the basis of a disability, such as HIV disease, the opportunity to participate in or benefit from its goods, services, or facilities. For further discussion of the definition of a disability, see section 36.104 of the enclosed regulation at pages 35593 and 35548-35550. For more information on the denial of participation from a public accommodation, see section 36.202 of the title III regulation at pages 35595 and 35556-35558.

Although a public accommodation is generally barred from excluding people with disabilities, a person may be excluded from the activities of a public accommodation if that person poses a direct threat, or significant risk, to the health and safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a reasonable modification of policies, practices, or procedures. However, the determination that an individual poses a direct threat to others may not be based on generalizations or stereotypes about the effects of a particular disability. Such a determination must rely on current medical evidence or the best available objective criteria. For further discussion, see section 36.202 of the title III regulation at pages 35595-35596 and 35560-35561. The current medical evidence does not suggest that HIV can be contracted through casual contact, perspiration, or urine in an exercise room, sauna room, or pool. For this reason, a person with HIV disease should not pose a direct threat to others in a health club, and therefore cannot be denied membership on the basis of that disability. For more information about HIV transmission and prevention, you may call the U.S. Public Health Service Hotline, open 24 hours daily, at (800) 342-AIDS. Mr. Martin expressed concern for the "disastrous effect" he believes admitting a person with HIV would have on his business. He claims that fitness center members and employees will be fearful of sharing facilities with such a person, although he presents no medical foundation for such fears. We suggest that Mr. Martin inform the center's employees and members, through training or dissemination of information, that a person with HIV or AIDS does not pose a serious risk to them in a fitness center setting. In any event, the ADA prohibits the use of unfounded fears as an excuse to exclude people with disabilities. I hope this information is useful to your constituent in understanding the requirements of the ADA. Sincerely,

James P. Turner

Acting Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosures (2) Title III Regulations Title III Technical Assistance Manual