HIV and Dojos

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HIV and Dojos

Postby RACastanet » Thu Oct 29, 1998 12:42 am

The lawyers are at it again here in central VA in a case involving an HIV positive youth and a dojo owner. Essentially, a parent neglected to tell a dojo owner about his son's HIV, and when people found out, they didn't want their children in classes with him. The owner offered private classes to the youth but was sued instead.

A judge ruled earlier this year that denying group lessons was reasonable in light of the seriousness of HIV and the possibility of open wounds in a dojo. The case has been appealed with support from the Rutherford Institute (usually a conservative bunch) contending that being HIV positive is a disability and therefore comes under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Hmmmmmm. The rights of the indiviual outweigh the risks to many? Someone thinks so. It will be about 3 months before a panel decides the fate of the dojo owner.

Esteemed panel of karateka - What would you have done? I'd certainly not take a risk of exposing a group of students to the body fluids of an HIV positive individual that could be shed during a workout or contact unless everyone knew of the risk.

Complying with the law could leave a dojo at risk for exposing others or broke if everyone quits as a result.

Any thoughts?

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HIV and Dojos

Postby Jason Bernard » Thu Oct 29, 1998 2:21 pm

I agree completely. If I were HIV positive
I would quit any school I trained at and
train on my own OR I would take a less
active role (more instruction with minimal
physical contact). I just plain makes

I really have to commend this instructor
though. He must really have a love for
the arts to be willing to give up some of
his extra time to give this kid personal
lessons. It is a true shame that he has
to go through this, and I hope he prevails!

If you know his address please send it to
me by email I would like to write him a
letter of encouragement.

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HIV and Dojos

Postby gmattson » Thu Oct 29, 1998 3:02 pm

This question/problem addresses many issues:
1. The affected student should have been more understanding of his condition and the potential dangers involved by working out with other students.

2. Sounds like the parents are more interested in using their son as a political punching bag than in his actually learning the martial arts.

3. The instructor might have presented a more balanced compromise, such as giving the boy private lessons in those techniques involving contact and allowing him to participate in group lessons involving kata, exercises and other non-contact activities.

4. The courts should address the issue based on what is best for all students, not just the boy.

We discussed the AIDS/HIV problem in earlier forums. Although most experts believe that the dangers are minimum, parents of healthy children will probably not accept even these minimum risks when selecting a dojo. Of course, we haven't even touched on the "whose responsible" issues, once a child gets infected through dojo contact and it is determined that the instructor/dojo knew that a HIV/AIDs infected person was a member of his/her dojo. Or... that the dojo was unaware that anyone in the dojo. . . because he/she didn't ask!!
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HIV and Dojos

Postby RACastanet » Fri Oct 30, 1998 12:59 am

Issues such as this are the ones that concern me. I tell people with colds, flu etc. to stay home for awhile. No doubt though, in a health club this large, there are at least a few others with not obvious infectious diseases working out.

According to the press, the father has not tried to find another dojo to take his son. In fact, he has moved out of the area as he 'feared' reprisals. Hmm....

The club where Bill G. and I teach has offered me a free membership, and to pay me or let me charge health club members and keep a percentage. I maintain a no strings, unpaid relationship so I can walk away at any time if threatened by an unreasonable situation. I wonder if I could be sued for not sharing my hobby under the ADA law?

By the way, the dojo owner is holding firm. I believe he teaches a very hard and heavy contact form of Shotokan.

Jason: If he is identified by name I'll pass it on to you.

Anyone else out there care to tackle this one?

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HIV and Dojos

Postby tensin » Fri Oct 30, 1998 4:12 pm

I believe the ADA requires "reasonable accomidation". Call me a cynic, I think that offering private lessons is a text-book example. Sometimes "reasonable accomidation" cannot be made, because no accomidation is reasonable.

I believe strongly in the right of the individual, but in this case it would be the right of the individual Dojo owner to protect his interest.
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