HIV Criminalization Laws Are Based On Bias, Not Science
HIV Discrimination Act was reintroduced this week by Congress members Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R–Fla.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) under REPEAL (Repeal Existing Policies that Encourage and Allow Legal). Known as H.R. 1739, the bill has 28 initial cosponsors.
The bill would help modernise laws, regulations and policies so that they do not place a “unique or additional burden on individuals solely as a result of their HIV status, and [it] offers a step-by-step plan to work with states to modernise laws,” according to a press release by Ros-Lehtinen.
This bill has been proposed several times since its debut in 2011, usually collecting cosigners before drowning in committee.
For a bill to become law, it must first be submitted by a legislator, after which it is referred to a committee and subcommittee for debate and marking up before it is admitted and voted on by other lawmakers. Once a bill passes both the Senate and the House of Representatives, it is sent to the president to sign into law.
“The fear and stigma surrounding HIV have led to some criminal statutes and penalties that do not improve public health,” said Ros-Lehtinen in the press release. “Since the establishment of laws which unfairly penalise individuals living with HIV, we have made significant medical advances that prove that antiretroviral therapy can reduce HIV transmission risk.”
“HIV criminalization laws are based on bias, not science,” added Lee. “Instead of making our communities healthier, these laws breed fear, discrimination, distrust, and hatred. Our laws should not perpetuate prejudice against anyone, particularly against those living with diseases like HIV. By passing this legislation, Congress would send a signal that discrimination and stigma have no place in our laws.”