Criminalizing HIV Status Is Wrong And Governor Brown Should Stop It

Thursday, 05 October 2017, 06:29:43 PM. The California governor must decide whether to sign legislation ending stigmatization of people with HIV.
Right now, a bill sits on Governor Brown’s desk that could do more to improve the lives of people with HIV than any other state-level policy change in recent years. If the governor signs SB 239, passed last week by both houses, California will join Iowa and Colorado in leading the national movement to overhaul outdated, discriminatory HIV laws. By signing, he will increase the number of people tested and treated, simultaneously protecting public health and reducing discrimination against people with HIV.  As the executive director of Positive Women’s Network USA, a national organization of women living with HIV, and a former member of President Obama’s HIV/AIDS Advisory Council, I have seen the damage done by the current laws, passed during the height of the AIDS epidemic.   These laws treat people living with HIV differently than those living with other serious communicable diseases and can result in felony prosecution, even when the individual does not engage in any behavior that could result in transmission of HIV. Criminalizing people living with HIV in this way is a discriminatory and stigmatizing relic from decades of homophobia, misunderstanding, and outdated AIDS hysteria. SB 239, by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), would modernize HIV criminal laws and bring them in line with evidence-based means to prevent the spread of HIV. The message these laws send? Take the test and risk arrest." Research now shows...Read more
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