“GNP+’s gain is also HJN’s gain”: proudly announcing Laurel Sprague’s appointment as Executive Director of the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+)

Photo credit: Nicholas Feustel
Dr Laurel Sprague at last month’s HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE Strategy Meeting in Brighton. Photo credit: Nicholas Feustel

Today, we are proud to announce that Laurel Sprague, PhD, our Global Research Fellow on HIV, Gender, and Justice has been appointed as the new Executive Director of the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+). Laurel will join GNP+ in May to lead the organisation in the implementation of an exciting and ambitious strategic plan.

“For the past year, Laurel has been integral to the growth of both the HIV Justice Network (HJN) and the broader HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE movement, ensuring that the voices of those most impacted by HIV criminalisation are heard, and listened to, by those in positions of power,” said HJN’s Global Co-ordinator, Edwin J Bernard. “I don’t think of this welcome move as HJN’s loss: GNP+’s gain is also HJN’s gain. For many years, HJN and GNP+ have been close allies, and Laurel’s appointment simply means that we will work even closer together towards our common aim – ending all punitive laws and policies aimed at people with HIV based on our HIV-positive status.”

Dr Sprague says: “As criminal laws increasingly are enacted and used against people living with HIV, our networks of people living with HIV and other key populations, and our allies in legal and human rights organisations, must continue to strengthen our collaboration. It has been an honour to work with HJN and the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE movement and I look forward to the many opportunities for increased solidarity, coordination, and support.”

When Laurel met Sally at last month’s HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE strategy meeting in Brighton.  Photo credit: Nicholas Feustel
When Laurel met Sally at last month’s HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE strategy meeting in Brighton. Photo credit: Nicholas Feustel

Although it is not possible to replace Laurel, we are also very happy to announce that Sally Cameron recently joined the HIV Justice Network as our Senior Policy Analyst. Sally has worked closely with HJN for a number of years, including as co-author, with Edwin J Bernard, of both the Advancing HIV Justice and Advancing Justice 2 reports. Sally will oversee a number of important projects for us this year, including the forthcoming HIV Justice Advocacy Toolkit.

Based in Queensland, Australia, Sally has been working on issues relating to HIV, gender, community development and capacity building for many years, most recently as HIV Education and Health Promotion Officer – Policy at the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO).

As well as co-authoring the two Advancing HIV Justice reports for HJN and GNP+, Sally has worked on many important HIV criminalisation publications over the years, including as author of ‘HIV, Crime and the Law in Australia: Options for Policy Reform – a law reform advocacy kit’ for AFAO; co-author of The Global Criminalisation Scan 2010: Documenting trends, presenting evidence for the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+); co-editor and author of The Criminalisation of HIV in Australia: Legality, Morality Realityfor the National Association of People Living with HIV (NAPWA); and author of the Guide to Australian HIV Laws and Policies for Healthcare Professionals‘ for Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM).

US: Florida State Senate Committee Supports Public Health Measure To Modernize HIV Laws (Press Release)

Press release from the Sero Project

Tallahassee March 22, 2017

The Florida HIV Justice Coalition today applauded members of the Florida State Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee for voting unanimously yesterday in favor of Senate Bill 628.

SB 628 will modernize Florida statutes regarding sexually transmissible infections (STIs) to reflect advances in scientific knowledge and medical treatment, particularly as they concern prevention and treatment of HIV.

The Florida HIV Justice Coalition, comprised of physicians, healthcare workers, legal, public health and policy professionals, people living with HIV and other allies, has led a statewide effort to raise awareness and mobilize support for reform.

Senator Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah), the SB 628’s chief sponsor, said, “Florida doesn’t want to be first in new HIV cases; we want to be first in the effort to end the HIV epidemic. With the support of public health leaders, prosecutors, major HIV service providers in Florida, like the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the Sero Project (a national network of people living with HIV) and others, we are going to get there. Today’s unanimous vote by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee is an important step.”

Leaders in providing services for people with HIV in Florida, as well as nationally, agree that early testing and ongoing adherence to treatment can stop the spread of HIV.

“Virtually all HIV transmission in Florida is from people who have HIV but do not know it, because they have not been tested, or are not on treatment,” said David Poole, Director of Legislative Affairs at AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Florida’s leading HIV service provider. “Getting tested, treated and virally suppressed prevents HIV transmission. That’s why updating these statutes is a vital HIV prevention strategy for Florida.”

“Public health policies and criminal statutes should be aligned to incentivize HIV testing and treatment. Any criminal act concerning transmission of sexually transmitted infections should be based on an intent to harm, a significant risk of harm and actual infliction of harm,” said Mrs. Kamaria Laffrey, a Winter Haven resident who has led the Florida HIV Justice Coalition and is a woman living with HIV. “We will continue to work with Senator Garcia and other legislators to improve SB 628 as it continues through the legislative process.”

“We commend and thank Senator Garcia for his leadership. We look forward to working with the legislature and our allies to improve public health and ensure equality and justice for all Floridians,” said Tami Haught, a woman living with HIV who coordinates state organizing for the Sero Project, a national organization working to modernize HIV-specific criminal statutes in 32 states.

The bill next moves to the Senate Health Policy Committee. Similar legislation, HB 605, has been filed in the House and will be heard first by that chamber’s Criminal Justice Committee.

Further information:

Kamaria Laffrey, Coordinator, Florida HIV Justice Coalition Kamaria.laffrey(at)seroproject.com

David Poole, Director of Legislative Affairs, AIDS Healthcare Foundation david.poole(at)aidshealth.org