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HIV Criminalization

September 22, 2010

HIV Criminalization

Part of my USCA responsibilities included facilitating a round table discussion devoted to HIV criminalization. If I am not mistaken, it may have been the only session at USCA focused on this important topic. Below I reflect on my motivation to discuss HIV criminalization and how this motivation shaped my role at the USCA roundtable: HIV Criminalization.

Why is a session on HIV criminalization important? Because as a person living with HIV (PLWH/A), I am keenly aware that my HIV status, at anytime, could cost me more than just my health.

On some level I live with a certain apprehensiveness that I may face psychological and bodily harm because of my HIV status; that my ability to move freely may be limited because of my HIV status; that I will be thought of and treated as less than due to fear and ignorance, and therefore experience further erosion of my rights and privileges. I not only feel this for myself but for others similarly situated. As an advocate, my personal charge is to ensure that PLWH/A are treated with dignity and respect in every aspect of our lives. Unfortunately, there are laws on the books in over 30 states that have the potential to strip us of our dignity and respect -- laws which criminalize the transmission of HIV. These laws have the potential to dismantle all of the efforts the PLWH/A community has made to ensure that the Denver Principles and other rights are continually upheld.

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