A growing national consensus exists that criminal laws based on a person’s HIV status run contrary to public health efforts to increase HIV testing and prevent new transmissions. As the case against the HIV criminalization laws has been built, advocates have begun engaging in reform efforts at the state level. This discussion will explore the work taking place at the state level on this subject, with a particular focus on the recent changes to California, North Carolina and Michigan, as well as current efforts to pass reform bills in Indiana and Florida. Participants will explore the scientific and public health arguments against these laws, the role social science research is playing in these legislative efforts, the strategic choices made while lobbying a reform bill, and the importance of the meaningful involvement of people living with HIV and other stakeholders, such as sex workers, in the reform process. The session will also discuss the implications of treatment as prevention (Undetectable=Untransmittable/U=U) and the problem of reinforcing the “viral divide” if reform is not accomplished in a way that addresses the root problem of punishing health status, rather than the inability to obtain or fully benefit from treatment.
Speakers: Ronda Goldfein (AIDS Law of Pennsylvania); Tami Haught (Sero Project); Scott Schoettes (Lambda Legal)