Dwayne Wright, a legal intern with The Center for HIV Law and Policy, prepared comments and questions for the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) Listening Forum in Brooklyn, New York. The comments and questions will be presented at Brooklyn Law School on August 8, 2014. The comments focus on PACHA’s 2013 resolution calling for federal action against HIV criminalization – the use of criminal law to prosecute and punish people living with HIV for conduct that would be legal if they did not get tested or know their status – and PACHA's guidance on voluntary disclosure of HIV and other STIs. As the comments explain, HIV criminalization is part of a troubling tendency to use the criminal law to manage issues and communities that make mainstream policy makers uncomfortable. HIV criminalization is also part-and-parcel of the over-criminalization and mass incarceration that over-burdens people of color and immigrants. Additionally, the comments feature the following three questions for ONAP:
1) Does ONAP have concrete plans to ensure implementation of PACHA’s resolution on HIV criminalization, such as securing CDC-specific guidelines on what ensures consistency with current medical science?
2) Can ONAP take specific action to increase the visibility and to promote the actual implementation of the PACHA guidance on voluntary HIV/STI disclosure?
3) Would ONAP support issuance of a new Surgeon General letter to Americans on the routes, risks and current-day consequence of HIV transmission?