US: Medical, HIV and LGBT Groups Challenge Validity of Missouri’s Draconian Criminal HIV Law In Michael Johnson Appeal

Friend of the Court Brief Maintains HIV Law Violates the Americans With Disabilities Act and Constitutional Protections Against Irrational Treatment of HIV

New York NY, April 20, 2016 – The Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP), a national leader on HIV policy development, today announced the filing of a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Michael Johnson, a former Missouri college student sentenced to more than 30 years for violating Missouri’s HIV transmission and exposure statute.

The brief argues that Missouri’s criminal HIV law is irrational and at odds with federal law that prohibits singling out a group of people for uniquely punitive treatment based on their identity or health status. Twenty-two national and state organizations joined CHLP on the brief, including the American Academy of HIV Medicine, Human Rights Campaign, Center for Constitutional Rights, Missouri AIDS Task Force and Empower Missouri.

“It is an honor to be part of this effort and to take a stand against a law that is at odds with everything we know about HIV today – how to encourage people to get tested, how to treat it, how it is transmitted, and how to prevent transmission from happening,” said Terrance Moore of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors. Mayo Schreiber, CHLP’s Deputy Director and lead on the case, added, “It is hard to believe that laws like this still exist, and that a young person can get the equivalent of a life sentence, as they would for first or second degree murder in Missouri, for a conviction of unintentionally transmitting and exposing willing sexual partners to HIV. When properly treated, HIV is a manageable medical condition that allows for a long life expectancy.”

The organizations submitting the amicus brief on behalf of Michael Johnson are:

AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania

American Academy of HIV Medicine

American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri Foundation

Athlete Ally

Black AIDS Institute

Center for Constitutional Rights

Center for HIV Law and Policy

Counter Narrative Project

Dr. Jeffrey Birnbaum

Empower Missouri

GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders

GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality


Human Rights Campaign

Missouri AIDS Task Force

National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors

National Black Justice Coalition

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National LGBTQ Task Force

One Struggle KC

Treatment Action Group

William Way LGBT Community Center

Women With A Vision

Attorneys Avram Frey and Lawence Lustberg of the national law firm, Gibbons P.C., working with Executive Director Catherine Hanssens of CHLP, led the drafting of the brief. Anthony Rothert of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri Foundation is serving as local counsel.

To view the brief online, visit: