HIV Legal & LGBT Organizations Call for Broader Efforts to End HIV Criminalization (2015)

Graphic reading: Why are we putting people in Jail for having HIV? This World AIDS Day join the movement to #Decriminalize HIV, with PJP Logo


CONTACT: Contact: Mayo Schreiber, Jr., Dep. Director, 212-430-6733; [email protected]

HIV Legal & LGBT Organizations Call for Broader Efforts to End HIV Criminalization

New Campaign Marks Increased Engagement of LGBT Organizations in Opposition to HIV Criminal Laws

Dec.1, 2015, New York, NY. The Center for HIV Law and Policy, the leading resource hub on HIV law in the U.S., announced a new partnership with the Human Rights Campaign and the National Center for Lesbian Rights to raise awareness about the harms of HIV criminal laws. The centerpiece of the joint campaign is a video about what these laws do, whom they target, and how they cause harm without any perceptible benefit.

CHLP Deputy Director Mayo Schreiber, Jr., stated, "One of the most significant barriers to ending the HIV epidemic are criminal laws based on ignorance. These laws are counter-productive to public health measures and stigmatizing to people affected by HIV. It is a boost to have an organization with the size and reach of HRC join in this fight."

NCLR Policy Counsel Tyrone Hanley said: “This video is a great collaborative step to raise public awareness of the harmful impact of HIV criminalization laws and ending HIV stigma. These laws hurt the most vulnerable members of society and we will continue to fight against these counter productive laws.”

Pepis Rodriguez, Coordinator of CHLP’s Teen SENSE project, emphasized, “Criminal laws should focus on a person’s intent, not their health status, to determine guilt or innocence. And all government policies should reflect the real risks, routes, and realities of HIV -- not outdated assumptions and harmful misconceptions about people living with HIV. HIV is a virus, not evidence of wrongful conduct or criminal intent.”

The multi-pronged outreach campaign -- #DecriminalizeHIV & #EndBadHIVLaws -- includes social and digital media efforts, a grassroots guide to HIV criminalization, and a new educational video debunking common HIV myths with an accompanying video guide in English and Spanish. The campaign also suggests ways to get involved in challenging bias in the criminal law against individuals living with HIV, such as the Positive Justice Project and the state-based organizing efforts it supports.

Catherine Hanssens, CHLP’s Founder and Executive Director, added that “obliviousness to the facts about HIV is at the root of all forms of HIV discrimination, from state criminal laws that treat HIV like a death sentence to Department of Defense Policies that refuse to allow persons with HIV to enlist. After more than 30 years, it’s way past time for all branches of state and federal government to end this biased nonsense.”

“As work continues to end the HIV epidemic, we must also eradicate the stigma surrounding HIV – including modernizing laws that are rooted in fear, not science,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “These laws do not reduce HIV, and only serve to increase confusion and shame.”

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Like the CHLP and Positive Justice Project Facebook pages to keep up to date on the latest developments about HIV criminalization. Follow @CtrHIVLawPolicy on twitter and @hiv_law_policy on Instagram. And don’t forget to Post, RT, and Snap using #DecriminalizeHIV, #WAD2015, and #EndBadHIVLaws!


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