Every now and then there is an extra-gratifying sign that our national and local campaigns for ending HIV criminal prosecutions are making a dent.
Last week, Democratic presidential candidate Governor Martin O’Malley is the first presidential candidate to come out in support for ending HIV criminalization. Speaking at the Iowa Safe Schools Spirit Awards on October 30, 2015, he had this to say:
“And we must stop doing things that hurt our young people . . . and pushing states to repeal laws that criminalize people with HIV – because these laws are inconsistent with science, and they are harmful to public safety and public health.”
Governor O’Malley is the first presidential candidate to address the ongoing legal burdens placed on people living with HIV in the United States. To date, other candidates have spoken of HIV/AIDS only in biomedical terms and goals. Continued funding for research and aggressive public health strategies are important, but they do not represent the complete HIV picture. Moreover, public health conversations that do not address HIV criminalization ignore the profound counterproductive impact such laws have on public health.
O’Malley also highlighted transgender rights, LGBTQ bullying in schools, homeless LGBTQ youth, and healthcare for LGBTQ families as issues needing attention.