Legal Guide Shows Irrational Treatment of HIV in Laws, Arrests and Sentencing
The Center for HIV Law and Policy has released the first comprehensive analysis of HIV-specific criminal laws and prosecutions in the United States. The publication, Ending and Defending Against HIV Criminalization: State and Federal Laws and Prosecutions, covers policies and cases in all fifty states, the military, federal prisons and U.S. territories. People are being imprisoned for decades, and in many cases have to register as sex offenders, as a consequence of exaggerated fears about HIV. Most of these cases involve consensual sex or conduct such as spitting and biting that has only a remote possibility of HIV exposure. This publication is intended as a resource for lawyers and community advocates on the laws, cases, and trends that define HIV criminalization in the United States.
Access to housing, whether or where one can work, the extent to which one can participate in public service – all of these basics of an independent and responsible adult life are curtailed or eliminated for many people who pass through the criminal justice system. In view of the clearly race-based and class-based slant on so many criminal enforcement policies, these restrictions on independent adult life have a destructively bigger impact on the poor and on people of color -- people disproportionately affected by HIV. NPA's advocacy with HUD seeks to address a slice of this society-defeating inequity.
Timely Aid for Advocates; Access to Employment and Ongoing Discrimination Are Continuing Concerns for People with HIV/AIDS
HIV employment discrimination remains a significant problem. Despite the fact that most people with HIV who receive regular health care remain healthy for years, and the fact that HIV is transmitted through limited and established routes, many Americans remain unwilling to work in proximity to people living with HIV. The Center for HIV Law and Policy's new primer was prepared in response to this problem, to arm advocates with the basic understanding necessary to assess and undertake a case on behalf of individuals who experience unfair treatment in the workplace because they are living with HIV.
One piece of the Patient Projection and Affordable Care Act, or Health Care Reform, implementation involves creation of Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans to offer options to those, such as people diagnosed with HIV but without access to employer-provided health insurance, who typically can't get affordable heatlh care coverage. As comments to the Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services point out, the signficance of this option will be seriously diluted if premium costs, coverage of reproductive health services, overly long waiting periods, and other problems aren't addressed.
With THE POSITIVE JUSTICE PROJECT, the Center for HIV Law and Policy launched the first national movement to repeal HIV-specific criminal laws and to end the arrest and imprisonment of people based on positive HIV test results. "Too often, people who have taken the step of getting tested for HIV are treated as if infection with the HIV virus is the equivalent of packing a loaded, unlicensed gun," said Catherine Hanssens, CHLP Executive Director. "It's time for testing advocates to focus on a real legal barrier and danger for people contemplating an HIV test -- the laws and policies that make the fact of a positive test evidence of wrong-doing and the basis for prosecution and increased prison terms." CHLP senior advisor Sean Strub added, "There is no more extreme manifestation of stigma than when it is enshrined in the law."