We’re in the middle of #AIDSAwarenessWeek, and while we’ve come a long way in how we talk about and treat HIV & AIDS, it’s easy to forget that the law hasn’t quite caught up.
For example, did you know that:
- In 10 U.S. states, people living with HIV are criminalized for acts that carry low or negligible risk for transmitting HIV such as biting, spitting or oral sex. If young people living with HIV were forbidden from playing sports or visiting playgrounds, the whole country would be angry! And rightfully so – there’s little to no risk of HIV transmission in those activities. Well guess what? Same thing for biting, spitting and oral sex. And yet these activities are criminalized as if the people who wrote those laws have no idea how HIV is transmitted (hint, hint: they probably don’t…)
- And in 34 states, crimes committed by people living with HIV could carry a much heavier sentence than if that same crime were committed by someone who was not living with HIV. Last I checked, different legal consequences for the same action is Discrimination 101.
- The United Nations released a report illustrating that more people are prosecuted for the violation of HIV criminal statutes and laws in the United States than in the entire rest of the world combined. (You read that right – combined)
That’s why a leading group of 20 HIV scientists from around the world issued a statement urging governments and people working the legal and justice systems to ensure that the most-up-to-date science informs the application of criminal law in cases related to HIV. That’s what the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act does.
You can use this simple form to tell your members of Congress to support the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act?
This legislation would create incentives and support for states to reform existing policies that use criminal law to target people living with HIV for severe punishments and felony charges for behavior that is otherwise legal or that poses no measurable risk of HIV transmission.
Simply put: HIV is not a crime. This is common sense. Easy. And yet it only has 32 supporters in Congress right now. Usually, that means that members of Congress simply aren’t hearing about the bill from their constituents. That’s where you come in with this letter.
Everyone, especially young people living with HIV, have the right to live free from oppression, the right to education, the right to treatment and care, and the right to live without criminalization and stigma.
Thank you for helping make this legislation a reality.