The Texas State House is considering SB 779, a bill that would allow any HIV test results to be used in any criminal proceedings against a person with HIV in Texas. This bill is unnecessary – Texas law already allows law enforcement and public safety officials to conduct HIV testing on individuals when appropriate, but there are privacy measures to keep these tests confidential. This bill goes much further – HIV tests could be subpoenaed and used in any criminal proceeding.
HRC opposes this legislation because stigma against people with HIV may bias criminal proceedings, this may unfairly result in enhanced penalties, and of course, because it undermines medical privacy.
From a public health perspective, it is inadvisable and dangerous to create obstacles that might prevent people from seeking or receiving HIV tests. If this bill passes, having a positive HIV test result may be used to enhance penalties or foster bias in criminal proceedings, which creates an incentive for the public to avoid testing. Everyone deserves medical privacy.
SB 779 has already passed the Texas Senate, so this is our last chance to stop this bill from becoming law. Please, if you live in Texas, reach out to your state representative and urge them to oppose SB 779. HRC is also coordinating with state and local advocates to oppose this measure, which compromises the privacy of people living with HIV and public confidence in HIV testing.