With the strong support of AIDS United and many other organizations in the HIV, health, LGBT and criminal justice communities, Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) reintroduced the Repeal Existing Policies that Encourage and Allow Legal (REPEAL) HIV Discrimination Act into the 113 th Congress. The bill was given the number House Resolution (HR) 1843. If passed, the bill would register a sense of Congress that federal and state laws, policies, and regulations should not place unique or additional burdens on people solely due to their HIV status and should instead accurately reflect HIV transmission, the health implications of living with HIV and the benefits of treatment and the impact of punitive HIV specific policies. The bill also calls for the Attorney General to conduct a review of state and federal criminal and civil commitment laws related to HIV. Such a review has also been called for in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The bill would not prevent prosecution of cases of intentional transmission of HIV.
Representative Ros-Lehtinen is the first Republican to endorse the bill, an important step in the House of Representatives, which has a Republican majority. In a press release, she stated, "I'm pleased to co-sponsor this bipartisan bill that will help end the serious problem of discrimination in criminal and civil cases against those who are HIV positive. Singling out and discriminating against those living with HIV is not in line with our American values and we must do better. The legislation seeks to modernize our current outdated laws and bring them into the 21st century. I urge my Republican and Democrat colleagues to join Barbara and me in helping those persons living with HIV live as healthy and normal a life as possible."
Reintroduction of the bill is the second effort of Representative Lee to introduce the REPEAL Act, which had attracted 41 co-sponsors, all Democrats. The new version of the bill is slimmed down from the previous version. It contains fewer findings from Congress than the previous version and would not appropriate new funds for activities. It can be found here.
Click here for the two Representatives' press release.