Letter to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director of HIV/AIDS Prevention Program, Jonathan Mermin, on the Necessity of CDC Statements on HIV Criminalization and Real Routes and Risks of Transmission, Center for HIV Law and Policy and HIV Preve

CHLP Original Publication | Letters and Other Advocacy Documents

The Center for HIV Law and Policy and the Positive Justice Project joined the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance in a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requesting clear statements from the CDC on HIV criminalization laws and policies.

The CDC has failed to take a position on HIV criminalization and has not taken leadership in clarifying the real routes and risks of HIV transmission, the lack of public health evidence to support HIV criminalization, and the importance of addressing the stigma and discrimination associated with these prosecutions. The drafters of the letter ask the CDC to definitively state that HIV criminalization is not supported by the U.S. government.

The drafters also request that the CDC: 1) post and explain (on CDC.gov, AIDS.gov, Aidsinfo.nih.gov) current statistical data on actual routes and risks of transmission that clarify the low risks of HIV transmission in a single sexual contact and the significant difference in risk between various types of sexual contact (e.g., receptive anal sex versus receptive oral sex);
2) post and explain the effects of an "undetectable" viral load on the already low risks of HIV transmission described directly above; 3) clarify the state of current phylogenetic science and the inability to prove source and direction of infection; and 4) clarify that there is no need to treat people with HIV with exceptional caution or for the criminal law to impose unique restrictions, penalties or obligations upon them based on the misperception that HIV is highly contagious or easily transmitted.

The posts and statements are requested by July 13, 2011, in honor of the one year anniversary of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). The NHAS directly addressed the problem and public health consequences of HIV criminalization and the pervasive public ignorance about HIV transmission risks.