HIV Prevention Justice Alliance
HIV criminalization laws in 32 states that make HIV exposure a crime plus relentless HIV stigma have fueled the prosecution and imprisonment of hundreds of people with HIV in the US, even in states without an “HIV-specific” law.
During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, when advanced methods of treatment and prevention were still unknown, laws criminalizing those living with HIV were enacted out of panic by state legislatures that did not prioritize the rights and freedoms of the LGBT community, nor understand the virus.
“Since [these laws] were originally written, the realities of what it means to have HIV, as well as the possibility of transmitting it, have changed completely, with new medications when taken regularly, normalizing life expectancy and eliminating the possibility of transmission,” says Dr. Edward Machtinger, director of the UCSF Women’s HIV Program. “This new reality requires a reassessment of the public health implications of HIV-related legislation.”
Current laws treat HIV transmission more harshly than other serious communicable diseases. Existing laws make it a felony punishable by up to eight years in prison for a person with HIV to intentionally expose another person through condomless sex, regardless of whether infection actually occurs
A study from the UCLA School of Law found that around 800 people in California came in contact with the criminal justice system due to their HIV status between 1988 and 2014, in most cases related to sex work. Black and Latino people, as well as women were disproportionately affected.
HIV criminalization laws do not promote public health, but rather discourage people from getting tested, seeking treatment, and disclosing their status to sex partners.
FSC is proud to be part of a national and global movement to reform laws that target people living with HIV. In March of 2017, FSC joined a broad coalition of public health and human rights organizations in support of California SB 239 which would decrease the penalties HIV related offenses in the state.
California SB 239
Proponent Sen. Scott Wiener [D]
Introduced February 6, 2017
Georgia HR 240
Proponent Rep. Sharon Cooper [R]
Introduced February 14, 2017
Georgia SR 465
Proponent Sen. Vincent Fort [D]
Introduced February 16, 2017
Florida HB 605
Proponent Rep. Mia Jones [D] Rep. Manny Diaz [R]
Introduced March 7, 2017
Florida SB 1074
Proponent Sen. Denise Grimsley [R]
Introduced February 20, 2017
Florida SB 628
Proponent Senate Criminal Justice Committee Sen. Rene Garcia [R] Sen. Daphne Campbell [D]
Introduced February 1, 2017
Illinois SB 1944
Proponent Sen. Chris Nybo [R] Sen. Donne Trotter [D]
Introduced February 10, 2017
Californians for HIV Criminalization Reform (CHCR) is a coalition of organizations and individuals dedicated to ending the criminalization of HIV in California. Our mission is to mobilize a broad coalition, including individuals and communities who are disproportionately impacted by HIV, to replace fear-based, stigmatizing laws that criminalize HIV-status with evidence-based, nondiscriminatory laws that protect public health. CHCR is led by a steering committee including—
ACLU of California
Black AIDS Institute
Erotic Service Provider Legal Educational and Research Project
Health Officers Association
Los Angeles HIV Law and Policy Project
Los Angeles LGBT Center
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Positive Women’s Network
Sex Workers Outreach Project
Transgender Law Center
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