California On The Forefront As State Senator Introduces Bill To Decriminalize HIV Transmission

It’s been 37 years and HIV Stigma has not gone away, in fact in todays political climate it almost seems worse than it’s ever been. Most states HIV HIV criminalization laws or have prosecuted people with HIV for crimes related to their HIV+ status

  • 38 states including California have specific HIV criminalization laws
  • 6 states don’t have specific HIV criminalization laws but have prosecuted HIV+ individuals for crimes related to HIV status, such as aggravated assault
  • 5 states including DC have never prosecuted anyone for HIV and have no specific statutes. They are Wyoming, New Mexico, Vermont, Maine & Rhode Island.

Map Courtesy of Movement Advancement Project (MAP)

In California it is currently a felony to expose another person to HIV through unprotected sex. State Senator Scott Wiener who coauthored the bill SB239 said “Having HIV does not make you a criminal and we shouldn’t be singling out HIV among all infectious diseases for harsher treatment,”. SB239 would lower the charges to a misdemeanor.

The laws were written in 1980’s and 90’s when the only form of prevention was using condoms and diagnosis was certain death. Today treatment options for HIV have evolved and contracting HIV is no longer a death sentence. A person who is on antiretroviral therapy with a suppressed viral load is now considered non-infectious and has an almost zero chance of transmitting the virus to another individual. Today treatment is viewed as a method of prevention (TaSP).

HIV negative individuals that may be at risk for HIV infection no have the option of going on Truvada for Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), which also reduces HIV transmission.

If enacted, the bill would put the transmission of HIV on par with the transmission of other serious communicable diseases, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

 

You can read more Here

Download PDF of SB239 Here