Bill Introduced To Repeal HIV Criminalization Laws

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Late Tuesday, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) introduced a bill that could eventually force the repeal of laws that criminalize exposing others to HIV.

Lambda Legal has issued a press release in support of the bill:

The REPEAL (“Repeal Existing Policies that Encourage and Allow Legal”) HIV Discrimination Act, H.R. 1843, which was introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee late yesterday, calls for review of all federal and state laws, policies and regulations regarding the criminal prosecution of individuals for HIV-related offenses. If enacted, it would be the first piece of federal legislation to take on the issue of HIV criminalization. The proposed bill is being met with widespread support, including endorsements from the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), the Positive Justice Project, and AIDS United.

Thirty-four states and two U.S. territories now have laws that make “exposure” to or nondisclosure of HIV a crime. Though condom use significantly reduces the risk of HIV transmission, most HIV-specific laws do not consider condom use a mitigating factor or as evidence that the person did not intend to transmit HIV. Sentences imposed on people convicted of HIV-specific offenses can range from 10-30 years, even in the absence of intent to transmit HIV, actual transmission, or even the potential for transmission. Though most convictions are based on consensual sexual activity between adults, those convicted are often required to register as “sex offenders.”

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