US: PJP Update – January 2018

National Advocacy

CHLP Partners with Positive Women’s Network and The Sero Project for Webinar on HIV Criminalization 101

On January 9, CHLP partnered with Positive Women’s Network and The Sero Project to present a webinar on the basics of HIV criminalization, including an overview of the law in Texas for advocates new to the issue. More than 60 people attended the webinar, which was organized with Texas advocate and PWN member, Venita Ray, who is focused on energizing HIV anti-criminalization advocacy in Texas.

CHLP Staff Attorney Kate Boulton presented a primer on HIV criminalization and the ways in which HIV status can be criminalized even in the absence of HIV-specific statutes, as is the case in Texas. CHLP National Community Outreach Coordinator Arpita Appannagari presented on state coalition building. For more details, a recording of the webinar can be found here.

CHLP Addresses HIV Criminal Law Reform at Equality Federation West by Midwest Leadership Summit

In December, CHLP Staff Attorney Kate Boulton travelled to Chicago to present at the Equality Federation’s West by Midwest (WxMW) Leadership Summit. The summit gathered 30 leaders from 14 LGBTQ advocacy organizations from the western and midwestern states. Boulton provided a training for conference attendees focused on the current landscape of HIV criminalization and the various advocacy efforts underway to change these laws in states across the country. Her talk explained how PJP strengthens and supports the work of regional leaders in state-level HIV criminal law reform advocacy.

Federal Criminal Justice Working Group Meets and CHLP presents on U=U and HIV Criminal Law Reform Efforts

The quarterly meeting of the LGBT/HIV Federal Criminal Justice Working Group took place in Washington, D.C. in December. The meeting convened 25 members representing LGBT- and HIV-focused organizations, discussed ways to more effectively support state criminal justice advocates, and included an update on recent sex work decriminalization efforts in the District of Columbia.

CHLP Staff Attorney Kate Boulton and Bruce Richman, Executive Director of the Prevention Access Campaign/U=U, co-presented on the Consensus Statement on HIV “Treatment as Prevention” and Criminal Law Reform. They focused on how the U=U campaign and criminal law reform efforts relate to model policies that will end HIV criminalization. More than 80 organizations and individuals have endorsed the 2017 Consensus Statement. See www.hivtaspcrimlaw.org for more information, including a recorded webinar and FAQ, and to endorse the statement.

Positive Justice Project Advisory Group Welcomes New Members

The PJP Advisory Group, a 35-person volunteer network created to ensure greater diversity of meaningful input from stakeholders around the country on the HIV anti-criminalization movement, added ten new members in 2017. Members convened in November to focus on lessons learned from recent legislative developments in California and Florida and the importance of inclusive, intersectional coalition building. If you are interested in joining the PJP Advisory Group and lending your voice to building a successful HIV anti-criminalization movement, contact Arpita Appannagari at aappannagari@hivlandpolicy.org or call 212-430-6733 to learn more.

State Advocacy

State Advocacy Working Group Updates

Arkansas

PJP Arkansas has continued to grow its membership as the group convened in December and January. Advocates from the initial planning call in November have each brought new people to the group, expanding its membership and commitment to modernizing Arkansas’ HIV-specific criminal laws. The Working Group is currently focused on drafting a fact sheet, continued stakeholder outreach, and refining its goals and vision statement.

Meetings are held on the second Thursday of the month at 11:00am (CT).

If you would like information on HIV Criminalization in Arkansas or are interested in becoming an advocate with the PJP Arkansas Working Group, please contact Arpita Appannagari at aappannagari@hivlawandpolicy.org.

California

Lambda Legal and Equality California are hosting a state-wide speaking series entitled, California Conversations: Leading the Way on HIV Decriminalization. This free, five-city event features moderators from APLA Health Los Angeles, ACLU, Positive Women’s Network, the LGBT Center of Orange County and more. The sessions will focus on SB 239, California’s recent legislation that modernized the state’s HIV criminal laws. Both co-authors of the bill, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), will attend in their respective cities. The first meeting was held in Los Angles on January 24 and the remaining meetings are:

If your organization is interested in supporting ongoing efforts by California advocates, please contact brad@eqca.org or 323-848-9801 for additional information.

Florida

Florida’s new legislative session began on January 9. The Florida House and Senate will be considering HB719 and SB546, respectively, two identical bills that were filed last fall. The bills make a range of changes to multiple sections of Florida’s law, putting HIV on par with other sexually transmitted infections and requiring proof of intent to transmit and actual transmission. However, the bills expand the scope of potentially criminal activity and leave unchanged the extreme penalties for sex workers living with HIV. For a more detailed explanation of the changes, see CHLP’s analysis here.

Meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month at 1:00pm (ET).

If you or your organization is interested in supporting HIV criminal reform efforts in Florida, please contact Kamaria Laffrey (kamaria.laffrey@seroproject.com)

Georgia

The Georgia HIV Project (formerly the Georgia Coalition to End HIV Criminalization) convened in December and January, focusing both meetings on strategic planning for the coalition’s 2018 advocacy. The coalition aims to broaden its scope to include other issues affecting the criminalization of people living with HIV, including health care access and legal literacy.

In December 2017, the House Study Committee on Georgians’ Barriers to Access to Adequate Health Care, created by HR240, released its final report. Thanks to the effective organizing and behind-the-scenes advocacy of the Georgia HIV Project, including a stellar panel on HIV treatment access and the problem of HIV criminalization (with a presentation on the latter topic from the CDC), the Committee’s report includes a remarkably progressive set of findings and recommendations for modernizing Georgia’s HIV criminal law. For CHLP’s read on the report, click here.

If you are interested in joining the Georgia HIV Project, please contact Johnnie Kornegay (johhnie.kornegay@counternarrative.org) and visit their website for additional information.

 

Louisiana

In January, the Louisiana Coalition on Criminalization and Health (LCCH) held an extended strategic planning call. The purpose of this call was to solicit advocate feedback and approval of the coalition’s ultimate HIV criminal reform priorities and to move planning forward through the coalition’s various specialized subcommittees.

Meetings are held on the second Wednesday of the month at 11:00am (CT).

If you are interested in information about HIV criminalization or participating in LCCH, please contact Chip Eakins at ceakins@philadelphiacenter.org.

Missouri

The Missouri HIV Justice Coalition convened in January, focusing its discussion on legislative priorities for a modernized HIV criminal law. Currently, coalition members are in dialog with several prospective bill sponsors about what advocates would like to see in a modernized law, and continue to identify new opportunities for legislative advocacy and education. A targeted advocacy day is being planned for late February in Jefferson City, and PLHIV and allies are invited to speak with state legislators, anticipating that advocates will have a bill filed by that time.

Meetings are held on the fourth Friday of the month at 1:00pm (CT).

If you are interested in becoming an advocate with the Missouri HIV Justice Coalition, please contact Ashley Quinn at ashley@empowermissouri.org, and visit the coalition’s website for additional information.

Ohio

The Ohio Health Modernization Movement is working with Equality Ohio to plan a face-to-face HIV Policy Summit in Columbus on February 26. The coalition convened in December and January to plan the outreach strategy and finalize the agenda for this event. A main priority of the summit will be for the Ohio Health Modernization Movement to create a 2018 strategic action plan.

Several members of the coalition met with a state senator and have set a meeting with another legislator to discuss the coalition’s legislative priorities in modernizing the state’s HIV-specific criminal laws and provide education about the harms of these laws in a high-volume prosecution state such as Ohio.

Meetings are the second Wednesday of the month at 5:00pm (ET). 

If you would like information on HIV Criminalization or are interested in becoming an advocate with the Ohio HIV Criminalization Working Group, please contact Arpita Appannagari at aappannagari@hivlawandpolicy.org.

Tennessee

On January 12, Working Group member Dewayne Murrell held an HIV Decriminalization Town Hall meeting in Memphis, along with community partners Transcend Memphis, PAIGE-Memphis, YLI-Memphis, and Christ Community Health Services. The event invited PLHIV and allies to learn how the HIV-specific laws in Tennessee affect the lives of PLHIV, and urged attendees to take action in their own communities.

The Working Group convened in December and January to discuss ongoing legislative activities and members continue to travel around state and engage in community education and advocacy.

Meetings are held on the fourth Thursday of the month at 1:00pm (CT).

If you would like information on HIV criminalization or are interested in becoming an advocate with the PJP TN Working Group, please contact Arpita Appannagari at aappannagari@hivlawandpolicy.org.