A Look At HIV Criminalization Bills Across The Country

 

 

 

 

Human Rights Campaign
by Hope Jackson
February 26, 2018

As state legislative sessions get underway across the country, HRC and equality partners are tracking seven HIV criminalization measures that threaten the lives of those living with HIV & AIDS, LGBTQ Americans and their families. Despite advances in medicine that can prevent the transmission of HIV or treat those exposed to the virus, unconscionable HIV criminalization bills are currently being considered in Georgia, Kentucky, Arizona, New York, West Virginia and Oklahoma. According to HRC’s 2017 State Equality Index, 25 states currently have laws that criminalize behaviors that carry a low or negligible risk of HIV transmission.

HIV criminalization legislation does not work in the context of modern scientific developments. There is no evidence to suggest HIV criminalization helps to lower HIV transmission rates.

Georgia’s HB 737 would force individuals to submit to court ordered blood tests where a law enforcement officer alleges to have been exposed to blood or other bodily fluids that could result in HIV, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C. The bill passed committee on February 5th. Kentucky’s HB 193 reached the House for consideration on February 16 and could be voted on any day now. As introduced, the Kentucky bill would criminalize the common cold as the definition of “communicable disease” would include diseases that are unlikely to cause lasting harm, much less harm warranting felony punishment. In the face of affirmative votes to push the bill to the House floor, a number of legislators took issue with the dangerously broad language that would punish the mere passing of the flu or common cold. This hearing revealed that HIV education is still needed in both the legislature and in the community.

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