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Urgent Action Required to Fight Unscientific, Stigmatising Nebraska Bill That Will Criminalise Body Fluid Assault on Public Safety Officers

By Edwin J. Bernard

February 1, 2011

This article was cross-posted from the blog "Criminal HIV Transmission."

This Friday, February 4th, the Nebraska State Legislature will debate The Assault with Bodily Fluids Bill which would criminalise striking any public safety officer with any bodily fluid (or expelling bodily fluids toward them) and includes a specific increase of penalty to a felony (up to five years and/or $10,000 fine) if the defendant is HIV-positive and/or has Hepatitis B or C.

The Bill ignores the fact that HIV cannot be transmitted through spit, urine, vomit, or mucus; punishes the decision to get tested for HIV; and will not keep public safety officers safer, but rather will reinforce misinformation and stigma about HIV.

Download the full text of Nebraska Legislative Bill 226 here
Two major problems with the Bill are:

1. The proposed language in Sec. 2(3) is contrary to science

2. Codifying the breach of doctor /patient confidentiality in Sec. 2(5) is extremely serious, and should not be undertaken with no public health benefit

The Positive Justice Project (PJP) has produced a set of talking points (download here) that summarises the problems with the Bill, and with HIV-specific legislation in general. PJP highlights that the wording of the Bill is so broad that it would allow for the following Kafkaesque situations:

PJP asks anyone in the United States who cares about this issue to contact their State representative (using the talking points to highlight the many problems with the Bill) and specifically encourages any networks or individuals in Nebraska to contact:

State Senator Mike Gloor, who introduced the Bill.
District 35
Room #1523
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2617
Email: mgloor@leg.ne.gov

Sandra Klocke
State AIDS Director
Office of Disease Control and Health Promotion
Nebraska Department Health and Human Services
301 Centennial Mall South, 3rd Floor
P.O. Box 95026
Lincoln, Nebraska, 68509-5044
Phone: 402-471-9098-
Fax: 402-471-6446
sandy.klocke@nebraska.gov

and/or

Heather Younger
State Prevention Manager
Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
HIV Prevention
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
301 Centennial Mall South
Lincoln, Nebraska, 68509
Phone: 402-471-0362
heather.younger@nebraska.gov

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