This written testimony, authored by The Center for HIV Law and Policy, was submitted to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights on December 8, 2014.
The testimony focuses on the continuing use of the criminal law to target people on the basis of health and disability status associated with stigmatized identities, including people from communities of color, and members of the LGBT community. The testimony highlights discriminatory treatment by law enforcement officials and an overreliance on criminal laws to single out and stigmatize marginalized, resulting in unnecessary prosecutions, judicial decisions based on bias or inaccurate information, and failures to address blatant misconduct and misuse of the criminal justice system. Currently, thirty-four U.S. states and territories have laws that criminalize the conduct of people living with HIV based on perceived exposure to HIV and without any evidence of intent to do harm, and other states have used general criminal law to prosecute individuals for alleged non-disclosure, exposure, or transmission of HIV. The testimony concludes with several recommendations including: basic HIV education and training for law enforcement officials, prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys, judges and state legislators; mandated literacy programs on HIV and sexually transmitted infections for students and staff of all federally-supported school systems; and the distribution of public service announcements on the routes, risks and consequences of all sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.