State of Georgia Fights Against Criminalization of HIV
The criminalization of HIV was on the agenda this Wednesday because of the work of the coalition dedicated to the fight against criminalization of HIV in the state of Georgia. The Coalition against criminalization of HIV was established in 2013. Coalition of activists organize educational activities to raise public HIV awareness and fight against discrimination of people with HIV in medical facilities.
In the state of Georgia, people living with HIV subject to criminal prosecution if they hide their positive HIV status from a partner before sex. The law also means punishment for such acts as spitting, although it is already known that HIV is not transmitted through saliva. In practice, these laws force people with HIV to disclose their status, regardless of the viral load, intentions or actions taken to prevent the transmission of HIV. The Coalition plans to examine the main problems affecting people with chronic diseases, including HIV, and report about their findings to the local authorities.
“If you are diagnosed with HIV and you go to get care, that can be used as evidence against you to say that you knew your HIV status. So doing what is considered the public health good can ultimately come back and haunt you in court. Given the near impossibility for a defendant to prove disclosure, this creates a scenario where the testimony of one sexual partner’s word is weighed against the other partner. The unspoken presumption is that the person living with HIV is assumed guilty based on the mere fact of their HIV status” - said one of the participants of the coolition.