Target: President Obama and U.S. Congress
Goal: Pass The REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act to stop the criminalization of HIV infected individuals. Eliminate federal and state laws which criminalize alleged HIV exposure. Many of the laws currently in force are based on misinformation and do not actually foster HIV transmission.
Medical research has come a long way in understanding the nature and transmission of HIV. Sadly, societal bias and criminal law have not kept pace with this enlightenment and, as a result, HIV infected individuals continue to endure discriminatory behavior, including the effects of archaic, criminalizing laws. Currently, 34 states maintain outdated laws which punish individuals for allegedly exposing others to HIV, even if transmission did not occur. Many continue to serve criminal terms for actions which we now know could not have led to HIV transmission (such as spitting or biting). Yet, until these laws are changed, they have no recourse.
As recently as March, 2010, a Michigan man living with HIV faced bio-terrorism charges for biting another man during an argument, despite the fact that HIV can not be transmitted via saliva. (Fortunately, a judge dismissed the bio-terrorism charge). In contrast, a Texas man is currently serving a 35 year prison sentence for assaulting a police office with a deadly weapon – that weapon being the offender’s spit, which poses no danger.
Criminalizing HIV exposure affects public health education by providing inaccurate and confusing information and perpetuating many myths about HIV transmission. In addition, it makes those living with HIV less likely to admit their positive status to partners, which could indeed lead to actual transmission of the virus. Further, it unjustly stigmatizes those with HIV and creates additional grounds for undue and unfounded discrimination.
Living with any chronic disease is difficult. Living with laws which criminalize components of such diseases that are based on misinformation is unthinkable. Please sign the petition below to show your support for decriminalization of these discriminatory laws.
Dear President Obama and Member of U.S. Congress,
Our country’s legal system has not kept pace with scientific research and evidence regarding transmission of HIV. Many federal and state laws remain in force for alleged crimes of exposure or transmission which have been proven as inaccurate. Those already convicted of these crimes (based on such false allegations as saliva of an HIV infected individual is a deadly weapon) continue to serve lengthy terms for no justifiable reason.
Medical advances have shown that it IS possible to live a full life with HIV. Just as with any other chronic disease, proper care and management are vital. Yet, those with HIV continue to endure the added battle of discrimination, fueled, in part by misinformation about transmission of the virus.
Please enact the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act and take this additional burden off our HIV infected Americans.
[Your Name Will Go Here]