Stop Treating People With HIV and AIDS Like Criminals

Target: Patty Murray, Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee

Goal: Repeal antiquated laws criminalizing AIDS and HIV-positive Americans.

Every 1st of December, we honor the fight to end one of the planet’s longest-running epidemics: HIV and AIDS. Global leaders have recently focused on lessening inequities in preventive care and healthcare for certain racial and ethnic groups. Little national attention has focused, however, on the inequitable treatment still directed at AIDS and HIV-afflicted Americans courtesy of the legal system.

Nearly three-quarters of U.S. states have laws on the books that target individuals living with AIDS. The more overt laws can land a person in prison if a sexual partner accuses him or her of failing to disclose HIV status. Such extreme punishments are nowhere to be found for other sexually transmitted diseases, and many infected individuals remain unaware of their own status and therefore cannot disclose it. In 11 states, an HIV-positive person can be charged with a crime merely for exposing another person to any bodily fluids. For example, in Louisiana a person with HIV or AIDS spitting in public can lead to a ten-year prison sentence. These archaic laws are built on long-debunked falsehoods about the disease and its methods of transmission.

Sign the petition below to urge a repeal of these attempts to criminalize illness.


Dear Senator Murray,

World AIDS Day reminds the planet of its commitment to eradicate one of its longest and most prolific pandemics. Stigmatization remains a major barrier to achieving these goals nationally and globally. Are you aware that 35 states currently have laws designed to in some form criminalize HIV and AIDS infection?

In the most nonsensical cases, a person diagnosed with HIV and AIDS cannot even spit without worrying about being thrown in prison. Science has long proven that neither saliva nor many of the other everyday behaviors criminalized by these outdated laws put the public at risk. Such dictates only add to the stigma and shame surrounding HIV and AIDS and set back progress nations desperately need.

Please advocate for a national ban on unjust and discriminatory laws that have no place in the American legal system.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Klaus Nielsen

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