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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Why Should HIV Criminalization Matter to You?

December 7, 2010

This article was provided by the Positive Women's Network of the United States of America.

Positive Women's Network Please join the U.S. Positive Women's Network (PWN) and the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) on Thursday December 16 at 2:00pm ET for an informational call and discussion of HIV Criminalization in the U.S. with advocates from NAPWA, The Center for HIV Law & Policy (CHLP), and Lambda Legal's HIV Project.

On the call speakers will discuss the experiences of people prosecuted under criminal HIV exposure and transmission laws, the current legal landscape of HIV criminalization, the inspiration for creating a tool for advocates on HIV criminalization, and how HIV advocates can use the publication in their communities. Presentations will be followed by lively conversation.

When: December 16th at 11:00am PT/1:00pm CT/2:00pm ET
Who: Presentations, lively discussion, and resources featuring:

  • Vanessa Johnson, Deputy Executive Director, National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA). Vanessa is the co-creator of the Common Threads training for women living with HIV and has been intimately involved in the inspiration and development of the Center's HIV criminalization publication.
  • Scott Schoettes, Staff Attorney, HIV Project, Lambda Legal. Lambda Legal is the oldest and largest national legal organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and people with HIV.
  • René Bennett-Carlson, Managing Attorney, Center for HIV Law and Policy. René is the co-author of Ending and Defending Against HIV Criminalization: State and Federal Laws and Prosecutions

RSVP to bkelly@womenhiv.org for details.


Teletraining Background Information

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According to recent analysis thirty-four states and two U.S. territories have HIV-specific criminal statutes that criminalize HIV exposure and transmission, and thirty-six states have reported proceedings in which HIV-positive people have been arrested and/or prosecuted for consensual sex, biting, and spitting. At least eighty such prosecutions have occurred in the last two years alone.

The Center for HIV Law and Policy in collaboration with 40 other organizations recently launched the Positive Justice Project, a community-driven, multidisciplinary collaboration to repeal HIV criminalization statutes and end HIV-specific prosecutions, increased punishment, and government-sponsored discrimination against people with HIV in the criminal justice system.

The Center recently released the first comprehensive analysis of HIV-specific criminal laws and prosecutions in the United States. The publication, Ending and Defending Against HIV Criminalization: State and Federal Laws and Prosecutions, covers policies and cases in all fifty states, the military, federal prisons and U.S. territories and is intended to be used as a resource for lawyers and community advocates on the laws, cases, and trends that define HIV criminalization in the United States.

Some examples of recent prosecutions discussed in CHLP's manual include:

  • A man with HIV in Texas is serving thirty-five years for spitting at a police officer;
  • A man with HIV in Iowa, who had an undetectable viral load, received a twenty-five year sentence after a one-time sexual encounter during which he used a condom; his sentence was suspended, but he had to register as a sex-offender and is not allowed unsupervised contact with his nieces, nephews and other young children;
  • A woman with HIV in Georgia received an eight-year sentence for failing to disclose her HIV status, despite the trial testimony of two witnesses that her sexual partner was aware of her HIV positive status;
  • A man with HIV in Michigan was charged under the state's anti-terrorism statute with possession of a "biological weapon" after he allegedly bit his neighbor.

In sisterhood and solidarity,
the U.S. Positive Women's Network

See Also
TheBody.com's Just Diagnosed Resource Center
Telling Others You're HIV Positive
More on U.S. Laws/News Regarding HIV Disclosure

 

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