Over 150 Organizations yell to END HIV CRIMINALIZATION

Courtesy of HIV Prevention Justice Alliance

Advocates and activists both big and small from all over the US have agreed and endorsed the Positive Justice Project’s Statement calling for an end to HIV criminalization in the United States– and that’s an amazing thing.

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Released today, via my constant contact and updating, as a member of Tennessee’s Positive Justice Project Action committee and as a member of the over 13,000 strong HIV Prevention Justice Alliance (and fully disclosing as an endorser of this statement myself), there are over 150 organizations nationally that recognize that unfair and outdated HIV laws in states all over the US aren’t effective, efficient and should be tossed.

The entire statement, available on the Positive Justice Project’s website:

“endorsed by hundreds of organizations and individuals affected by HIV across the country, points to the growing consensus on the need to end the use of special criminal laws and policies that target  persons with HIV for consensual sex or otherwise “exposing” another person to HIV. The statement demands that laws and practices be modernized to reflect current science and knowledge about HIV, and the standards of proof and process normally afforded individuals facing charges of a criminal offense against another.”

The statement is endorsed by heavy hitters and long-time supports within the HIV awareness community including:  ACT UP New York & San Francisco, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Nashville CARES, Mr. Friendly, NMAC, NLAAN, The BODY, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Black AIDS Institute, Project Inform, Gay-Straight Alliance Network, TPAN, Lamba Legal, Young Activists Against AIDS, among many other noteworthy organizations.  The full listing of current endorsers is available here.

According to HIV Prevention Justice Alliance’s website: 

The PJP Consensus Statement highlights injustices caused by HIV criminalization and includes clear rationales, both scientific and legal, for why change is overdue.

The PJP Consensus Statement calls for government action to make sure that any prosecution based on exposure to a sexually transmitted disease, including but not limited to HIV, requires:

1. Proof that the defendant (the person charged) intended to do harm;
2. Conduct that is likely to result in that harm;
3. Proof that the conduct of the accused in fact resulted in that harm; and
4. Punishment that is proportionate to the actual harm the defendant caused.

I am so proud of the backbone of these supporters and organizations and so very humbled and thankful for the leadership bring this statement again to the public and the work behind the scenes to openly talk and refute the inherited ideals that HIV should be criminalized.  It is a brave and honorable task to attempt to take on current laws and chance them. As a person living with HIV, myself, it gives me hope that one day I will not continue to be defined by a virus or by the stigmatizing message unfair laws like these employ.  Instead, I’m hopeful I will be defined by the brave men and women (both positive and negative) that are fighting and educating others in order to make these very important and sometimes controversial changes a reality — decreasing the stigma of living with HIV and thus, providing a better life for people like me.  So, thank you.

Go check out this statement and endorse it!

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