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Stigma in Action: 10 Infuriating HIV Criminalization Stories

December 29, 2016


Stigma in Action: 10 Infuriating HIV Criminalization Stories

Having HIV is not a crime, and never, ever should be prosecuted as one. Never mind the fact that criminalizing HIV nondisclosure or exposure doesn't work and only harms public health. It's also discriminatory, singling out people living with HIV for additional mistreatment by an already skewed and unjust legal system because of a health condition.

Unfortunately, however, about two-thirds of U.S. states have not yet gotten that memo, and prosecute people under HIV-specific statutes -- or enhance their sentences under general criminal laws because they are living with HIV.

All cases of HIV criminalization are egregious in their own way; this roundup represents a handful of particularly heinous, unjust, painful or just plain ridiculous cases of people living with HIV having their statuses used against them in court.

"I believe that most states still live in fear of the unknown," mused Monique Howell-Moree, herself a survivor of HIV criminalization, in a recent piece. "They still have stigma circulating around their communities, and they refuse to bring about CHANGE." Read on to witness just how strong a hold HIV stigma has on the minds of some communities, media makers, prosecutors and accusers.

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Credit: The Center for HIV Law and Policy.

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