US: New Jersey Assemblywoman introduces legislation to modernise the state’s HIV-specific criminal law

Vainieri Huttle Introduces Bill to Decriminalize Transmission of HIV

(TRENTON) – Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle has introduced legislation to decriminalize the transmission of HIV under certain circumstances.

Under current New Jersey law, it is a crime of the third degree if a person knows that he or she is infected with AIDS or HIV and commits an act of sexual penetration without the informed consent of their partner. A third-degree crime is punishable by three to five years in prison, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.

The legislation (A-5673) seeks to amend existing law to downgrade this penalty to a disorderly persons offense, and also have it only apply to people who act with specific intent to transmit an infectious or communicable disease like HIV, do not attempt to prevent transmission, and pass the disease to another person. A disorderly persons offense is punishable by six months in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

“For far too long, stigma around HIV/AIDS and the LGBTQ community has guided our laws. This legislation ensures that New Jersey moves forward guided by public health, not bigotry,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “I am honored to be working alongside Garden State Equality, Hyacinth and the Harm Reduction Coalition to put forth this historic legislation.”

“The current law disproportionately impacts communities who are more likely to be living with the virus, including LGBTQ+ people, Black and Latinx people, transgender women, and sex workers. We are thrilled to partner with pro-equality champions, Senator Vitale and Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle, on modernizing this outdated and harmful law,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director, Garden State Equality.

Axel Torress Marrero, Senior Director of Public Policy and Prevention, Hyacinth AIDS Foundation said, “New Jersey’s HIV criminalization statute is based on stigma and fear, rather than modern science. It no longer reflects the current science of treatment and transmission of HIV. In 2021, a person living with HIV today can take medication to reduce their viral load that corresponds to the amount of virus present in their body, which means they will not transmit HIV to another individual.  This tremendous breakthrough is the science supporting the Undetectable Equals Untransmittable (U=U) reality.”

“This bill will make New Jersey more inclusive and less stigmatizing for people living with HIV. The criminal code is meant to punish actions that harm others, not discriminate against people living with a chronic health condition. We sincerely thank bill sponsors Senator Vitale and Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle for championing this effort to decriminalize HIV and promote public health,” said Jenna Mellor, Executive Director, New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition.

In addition to HIV, the measure would also apply to the transmission of chancroid, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes virus, or any of the varieties or stages of such diseases. It now goes to the Assembly Speaker for further review.

Uganda’s new Sexual Offences law a setback for HIV justice and human rights

The HIV Justice Network (HJN) joins other civil society and human rights organisations in condemning the passage of the Sexual Offences Bill in Uganda earlier this week.

The move by Ugandan Parliamentarians to pass the Sexual Offences Bill is a major concern for those working to end HIV and intersectional criminalisation. Considering that Uganda already passed the HIV Prevention and Control Act in 2014, which criminalises HIV transmission, attempted transmission, and behaviour that might result in transmission by those who know their HIV status, this new law goes further.

One of the definitions of rape in the Bill is ‘misrepresentation’, which runs the very real risk of being interpreted by the criminal legal system as HIV status non-disclosure, and if the accused is found to be living with HIV, this results in the death penalty.

The Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) stated: “Singling out HIV and AIDS as a factor for aggravated penalty for rape, discriminates against people living with HIV. The provision places the burden on people living with HIV which do not fall to those living with other infectious illnesses. Using HIV and AIDS as a factor for aggravated offence treats people with HIV as vectors of disease, rather than as people with an interest in their own health and rights. This provision undermines the efforts to eliminate the stigma that surrounds people living with HIV and AIDS. … [This] law falls most heavily on those who ‘took the trouble’ to get tested and may even by engaging in safe sex options. This may discourage those who do not know their status from having an HIV test.”

The Bill, which attempted to fill a gap in current legislation around issues of sexual assault and rape, goes much, much further by also criminalising same-sex acts and sex work.

“It is clear from the Bill that some of the clauses directly reinforce sections of the Penal Code Act Cap 120 of Uganda that criminalise homosexuality and sex work. This is, therefore, a direct threat of chapter 4 of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda that promotes human rights of all Ugandans,” said Richard Lusimbo, the National Coordinator of the Uganda Key Populations Consortium.

His sentiments are echoed by Women with a Mission and Triumph Uganda, who have analysed the Bill’s implication to the LGBTQ+ and sex workers community, and who have urged for a re-review and amendments to the problematic clauses, which were passed suspiciously.

“We urge the President of Uganda to task parliament to re-review provisions of the Bill that will fuel human rights violations, impede, and undermine the registered gains in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We urge all stakeholders in the health sector to voice the negative implications of the law against HIV/AIDS, STIs, and justice on the key priority and marginalized communities and civil society organizations in Uganda.

With the passage of the legislation, the President is expected to assent the Bill into law within fourteen working days. The legislation was first tabled by Hon Monica Amoding, MP for Kumi Municipality on April 14, 2016, and was described as consolidating and amending the law to sexual offences from various enactments. At the third reading of the bill, the MPs included the various contentious clauses and amendments that are now being challenged.

[Update]US: Bill to decriminalise HIV transmission passes the Senate Executive Committee in Illinois

Senate committee advances bills on sex ed, decriminalizing HIV transmission

Legislation that would overhaul sex education in Illinois and a measure to decriminalize the transmission of HIV were among several bills that passed the Senate Executive Committee Wednesday.

The Executive Committee advanced an amendment to House Bill 1063, filed by Rep. Carol Ammons, an Urbana Democrat, and sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Robert Peters, a Chicago Democrat. It passed through the committee in an 11-4 vote to advance to the Senate floor.

Current Illinois law allows for individuals to be charged with “criminal transmission of HIV,” while also allowing for law enforcement to compel criminal defendants to test for HIV/AIDS in order to determine whether to charge them for the crime.

“Those living with HIV deserve to be able to receive treatment for their condition, and not risk arrest or incarceration,” Peters said in a release Wednesday. “It’s time we end the stigma surrounding sexually transmitted diseases and start treating them like the medical conditions that they are.”

The bill would eliminate the charge from Illinois statute, and would amend the AIDS Confidentiality Act — a statute that protects Illinoisans from having an HIV-positive status disclosed — to remove exemptions for law enforcement from the provision.

Lawmakers in the House voted 90-9 last month to pass the legislation. It now needs only majority support in the Senate to be sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his signature.

Other legislation advanced by the committee Wednesday includes a provision that allows teachers unions to collectively refuse to go to work due to abnormally dangerous health and safety conditions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and another extending by three years the length lottery funds will go toward Alzheimer’s disease care.


Published April 15, 2021 in News Press Now

Illinois House votes to decriminalize HIV transmission

The Illinois House Judiciary Criminal Committee advanced two bills Tuesday with unanimous support, one to decriminalize transmission of HIV and another to expand protections for survivors of sexual assault.

An amendment to House Bill 1063, introduced by Democratic state Rep. Carol Ammons, of Urbana, changes several Illinois statutes related to persons living with HIV/AIDS and its transmission. On Wednesday, the House approved the bill 90-9, sending it to the Senate for consideration.

Under current Illinois law, a person who transmits HIV to another person can be charged with “criminal transmission of HIV.”

The AIDS Confidentiality Act, meant to protect Illinoisans from having an HIV-positive status disclosed or used against them, contains exceptions allowing law enforcement officials to subpoena or petition for the HIV status of criminal defendants in order to determine whether they should be charged for potential criminal transmission.

“We would not put a law on the books today that will criminalize COVID for people who refuse to test, and people who know they’re spreading COVID but refused to test and refuse to wear a mask, we would not then criminalize people for knowingly passing COVID,” Ammons told the committee.

Her legislation would repeal existing laws allowing law enforcement or state’s attorneys to access the HIV status of an individual and would remove criminal statutes for the transmission of HIV completely.

“This is why we’re trying to change this law is because this is the only (sexually transmitted infection) that we have on the books that literally criminalizes certain communities and is specifically targeted,” Ammons said.

Witnesses testifying in support of the bill told the committee that the criminal statute has been used in 22 cases since 2012, and fewer than 10 times since 2017.

“HIV and our knowledge about prevention and transmission has dramatically changed in the last 30 to 40 years,” Tom Hughes, executive director of the Illinois Public Health Association said in his testimony. “The (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recognizes that a person who is HIV positive, but who takes medication regularly stays virally suppressed, is undetectable on their viral load, and is effectively no risk for the transmission of HIV.”

According to Hughes, the criminalization of HIV status poses a significant obstacle to public health by incentivizing people to not get tested or disclose their status to their partner out of fear of criminalization.

Under questioning from committee member Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, R-Elmhurst, Hughes said that during his time working for the Illinois Department of Public Health, most cases involving the criminal transmission of HIV “revolved around communities of color” and had a disproportionately negative impact on those groups.

Mazzochi noted that after insulin, HIV medication was “one of our largest spends in the state of Illinois.” She indicated that she would support the measure as long as studies showed it would reduce HIV transmissions rather than increase rates once it became decriminalized.

Ultimately, Mazzochi and other Republicans on the committee joined the Democratic majority to send the legislation to the House floor in a 17-0 vote.

House Bill 1732, introduced by Rep. Maura Hirschauer, D-Batavia, expands protections for sexual assault survivors by amending the Civil No Contact Order Act. That law allows for “victims of non-consensual sexual conduct or penetration” to a receive a court order protecting that person, their family, household or someone providing them services from having contact with the perpetrator of the crime.

HB 1732 already passed the committee unanimously last month, but Hirschauer brought it back with an amendment. The version that passed previously allowed for family or household members of the victim to file the petition on their behalf.

Hirschauer’s amendment to her bill, which she presented to the committee Tuesday, requires a statement verifying that the victim consented to the petition for it to be filed this way. It also advanced to the House floor in a unanimous 17-0 vote.

Senate Bill 2277, which appeared before the Illinois Senate Criminal Law Committee on Tuesday, would also make civil no contact orders filed against those convicted of criminal sexual assault permanent instead of lasting 2 years. That measure was also passed committee unanimously.

New Zealand: Man sentenced to three years and nine months in prison for removing condom without consent during sex

New Zealand’s first successful ‘stealthing’ prosecution leads the way for law changes in Australia and elsewhere

Last week’s sentencing of a Wellington man for rape was legally significant for being New Zealand’s first successful prosecution for what is known as “stealthing”.

Stealthing occurs when a condom is removed without consent during sexual intercourse. In these cases, a person may have consented to sex but only under certain conditions — for example, with the use of a condom.

In this case, X was found guilty of raping a sex worker in a Lower Hutt brothel in late 2018, and sentenced to three years and nine months in prison. The court was told he was made aware on several occasions a condom was legally required and he agreed to use one.

The two had consensual sex with protection, but when they had sex again X removed the condom. The woman indicated he had acted inappropriately and made him put the condom back on. Without her knowledge, X again removed the condom and ejaculated inside her. The woman ran to her manager’s office and the police were called.

Judge Stephen Harrop said sex workers were no less victims than any other survivor. He also rejected the defence claim that the stealthing was not premeditated and that cultural factors were relevant to the sentencing (X arrived in New Zealand from the Philippines in 2016).

Judge Harrop said X was told multiple times that a condom was necessary, adding: “I can’t proceed on the basis that raping sex workers is any more acceptable [in the Philippines] than it is here.”

The judge also said the sexual assault had risked the woman’s physical health and had caused her ongoing mental harm. In her victim impact statement, she said her world view has changed, she has had to cease work and almost never leaves home alone.

Recognising stealthing as a crime

The conviction is significant because it recognises everyone has a right not only to choose to consent to sexual activity, but also to choose what conditions are placed on that consent.

This is also significant for the New Zealand police who have been accused of not taking reports of stealthing seriously in the past.

Furthermore, the landmark New Zealand judgment paves the way for other countries to reconsider their laws. There is currently a proposal to outlaw stealthing “as a factor that negates consent” before the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly.

Last year, the New South Wales Law Reform Commission also suggested changes to the state’s legislative regime. These would mean sex with a condom is legally defined as a specific activity that can be consented to, without consenting to any other sexual activity, such as sex without a condom.

So far, only one Australian case has made it to court, with a Melbourne man charged with rape in 2018 after allegedly removing a condom without consent. The trial has been delayed by the pandemic.

Further afield, Switzerland, Canada and Germany have all seen convictions for stealthing.

Physical and psychological risk

While these proposed changes are a step in the right direction, it is clear stealthing is still not well understood. This is perhaps not surprising, as issues of consent in general remain a real problem in the community and the courts.

As the acclaimed TV drama series I May Destroy You powerfully depicted, stealthing is about dominance and power and can happen to anyone. While most people will agree that “no means no”, it’s less clear what “yes” can mean.

Specifically, what conditions have been placed on that “yes”? Situations where the agreed conditions have changed – such as when a condom has been removed – should require “fresh consent” from both partners.

Beyond the moral, ethical and legal considerations, stealthing poses real risks to the physical and psychological well-being of the survivor, including sexually transmitted infections, HIV, unplanned pregnancy, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Fundamentally, stealthing violates the dignity and autonomy of survivors and is a violation of a person’s right to self-determination. The apparent unwillingness of police to prosecute, combined with a lack of public awareness, has undoubtedly meant stealthing has been under-reported in the past.

It is to be hoped the recent New Zealand conviction increases community awareness and encourages other survivors to come forward and tell their stories. Ultimately, it should lead to other jurisdictions recognising stealthing as a sexual crime and changing their laws to reflect this.

[Update] Let’s ensure ending HIV criminalisation is a priority in the 2021 Political Declaration

You can’t end HIV without ending HIV criminalisation!

We must ensure that HIV criminalisation is included as a key indicator in the High-Level Meeting (HLM) 2021 Political Declaration.

It is crucial to ensure political commitment to remove laws and policies that unjustly impact people living with HIV in all of our diversities.

And so, HJN is calling on civil society to ensure that a specific focus on HIV criminalisation is included in the 2021 Political Declaration.

Today, 23 April, you can attend an interactive multi-stakeholder hearing that will be streamed live on the GNP+ Facebook page as well as on UN Web TV.  The hearing starts at 9 am in New York / 3 pm in Geneva.


You can also join the civil society debrief during the break at 12.30 pm New York / 6.30 pm Geneva if you register here.

This Civil Society Engagement Guide to the HLM 2021 includes some important engagement opportunities and places to start on this journey.

Other ways to get involved:

  • Contact key government officials engaged with the HLM to influence your country’s input into the negotiations around the Political Declaration
  • Advocate for your government to include representatives of affected communities in the country delegation to the HLM and advocate for the highest level of government representation at the HLMs
  • If your civil society organisation doesn’t already have ECOSOC status, you can register for special accreditation to participate in the HLM until this Sunday, 25 April.

 
April 16, 2021

 

HJN is urging all stakeholders engaged with the civil society dialogue on the new Global AIDS Strategy and the 2021 High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS to ensure that HIV criminalisation is included as a key indicator in the 2021 Political Declaration. We must ensure political commitment to remove laws and policies that unjustly target people living with HIV, who are often also members of other criminalised or marginalised populations.

The High-Level Meeting (HLM), which takes place between 8-10 June 2021, will review the progress made in ending HIV as public health threat since the last HLM in 2016. We expect the UN General Assembly to adopt a new political declaration to guide the future direction of the response as the world marks 40 years since the first case of AIDS was reported, and the 25th anniversary since UNAIDS was established.

As noted in the new Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026, End Inequalities, End AIDS, ending HIV criminalisation is central to ending HIV as a public health threat by 2030, noting: “Punitive laws, the absence of enabling laws and policies, and inadequate access to justice contribute to the inequalities that undermine HIV responses.”

The Strategy furthers states that HIV and other forms of criminalisation are a violation of human rights. “SDG 3 cannot be achieved if stigma, discrimination, criminalization of key populations, violence, social exclusion, and other human rights violations in the context of HIV are allowed to continue and if HIV-related inequalities persist. The evidence consistently shows that the criminalization of people living with HIV and key populations reduces service uptake and increases HIV incidence.”

HJN is therefore calling on all stakeholders to ensure that a specific focus on HIV criminalisation is included in the 2021 Political Declaration. Here’s how:

  • Contact key government officials engaged with the HLM to influence your country’s input into the negotiations around the Political Declaration
  • Advocate for your government to include representatives of affected communities in the country delegation to the HLM and advocate for the highest level of government representation at the HLMs
  • If your civil society organisation doesn’t already have ECOSOC status, you can register for special accreditation to participate in the HLM until 25 April.

And through the leadership of our HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE partner, GNP+, you can make your voice heard and included by responding to a survey that will support the development of a civil society statement with clear community recommendations to the HLM and Political Declaration.

The responses to this survey, which should take less than 10 minutes, are confidential and will only be used for the purpose of the HLM process. The closing date to submit your responses is next Tuesday, 20th April 2021.

English: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/27QGLGD
French: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/S9WWY58
Spanish: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/W9WSTJ6
Russian: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WSZBW88
Portuguese: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WJJK257

 

Russia: Bill proposing to abolish mandatory deportation of foreigners with HIV submitted for review

MP proposed to change legislation in favour of infected migrants

Translated from Russian via Deepl.com. For original article, please scroll down.

Fedot Tumusov, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Health Committee, has sent for review to the Russian Government a draft law proposing to abolish mandatory deportation of foreigners with HIV. The deputy deems it necessary to allow them to be treated in Russia at their own expense or at the expense of their home country. In his opinion, this would protect the rights of migrants with HIV and save money of the Russian tax payers, as emergency treatment in neglected cases costs the government more than 200 thousand rubles. The Ministry of Health has previously questioned whether it is cheaper to treat foreigners with HIV than to expel them from the country.

The deputy Fedot Tumusov (“Fair Russia”) proposed to cancel the rule on deportation of foreign citizens and stateless persons with HIV and allow them to be treated legally in Russia. He submitted the relevant bill (available to Kommersant) for review by the government. The current law “On Prevention of the Spread of Disease Caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus in the Russian Federation” prohibits foreign nationals with HIV from entering Russia, their temporary stay, and residence. If foreigners who have been tested (not anonymously) are found to be HIV-positive, Rospotrebnadzor makes a decision on their undesirability to stay in the country. In the explanatory note, Mr. Tumusov points out that many foreigners with HIV, having received such an order, go into illegal status for many years.

Knowing that if they are officially diagnosed with HIV infection, they will be denied entry to Russia forever, migrants avoid such testing in every possible way, which contributes negatively to the epidemiological situation in Russia and countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia,” the note said.

In 2015, following a ruling by the Russian Constitutional Court, a decree was issued prohibiting the expulsion of migrants with HIV if their spouse, children or parents are Russian citizens or foreigners with residence permits in Russia. However, according to the deputy, the amendment prevents the majority from legally residing in the country. Mr. Tumusov points out that the current legislation violates the rights of migrants to medical assistance and contradicts the State Strategy of the RF for counteraction of spread of HIV till 2030. Among other things, the Strategy stipulates that Russia shall assist HIV-positive foreigners in seeking medical assistance and provide social support to certain categories of population groups vulnerable to HIV infection.

Fedot Tumusov notes that migrants with HIV who refuse antiretroviral therapy often end up in hospitals and intensive care units “in a severe and neglected condition,” which increases the burden on the Russian budget.

Mr. Tumusov refers to the results of a study by the Expert Group on the Health of Migrants in the EECA Region (EEG), previously reported by Kommersant. The experts estimated that the cost of a set of examinations, treatment and services for one person for 21 days in the hospital is 228,572.6 rubles, while the annual outpatient HIV treatment and examination costs an average of 83,084 rubles. Fedot Tumusov also suggests organising treatment at the expense of the country of origin or the foreigner with HIV himself. According to Mr. Tumusov, the CIS countries, from where mass migrant workers come, now fully provide antiretroviral drugs to their citizens during their stay in the labour migration. Thus, the deputy emphasizes, the adoption of the bill would not require additional federal budget expenditures; on the contrary, it would save taxpayers’ money.

According to the Central Research Institute of Epidemiology, Rospotrebnadzor, 37,389 HIV-positive foreigners have been identified in Russia since 1985, when the first case of infection was detected, until the end of 2019. In the same time period, the number of Russians with HIV has reached 1,420,975. The EEG study draws attention to the high prevalence of HIV infection in Russia – 54.8 people per 100,000 population. In countries from which migrant workers come most frequently, the rate is much lower: 14.2 in Tajikistan, 13.2 in Kyrgyzstan and 7.2 in Azerbaijan. Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the Federal AIDS Center, told Kommersant earlier that in the late 1980s, when infection was found mainly in people arriving from abroad, there was “some sense” in examining them and sending them back home. Within a few years the number of Russians who were infected far exceeded the number of foreigners. However, the practice of deportation, according to the expert, was supported by “ura-patriots” who believed that in this way they were “saving Russia from HIV infection”.

According to the Russian Federation of Migrants (FMR), about 1,500-2,000 foreign nationals are diagnosed with HIV status each year when applying for a work permit.

“Based on this, one can assume that a lot of migrants who do not apply for a permit may also be diagnosed with the infection, but there is no data,” says Vadim Kozhenov, head of the MDF. According to him, MDF “in general” supports the initiative of Fedot Tumusov, because “modern means of HIV therapy can make a person absolutely safe for others.

The Ministry of Health did not comment on the deputy’s initiative. Earlier, the ministry said it did not agree with the conclusions of the REG about the economic benefits of treating migrants with HIV.


Депутат предложил изменить законодательство в пользу инфицированных мигрантов

Первый зампред комитета по охране здоровья Госдумы Федот Тумусов направил на отзыв в правительство РФ законопроект, который предлагает отменить обязательную депортацию иностранцев с ВИЧ. Депутат считает необходимым позволить им лечиться на территории РФ за свой счет или за счет их родной страны. Это, по его мнению, защитит права мигрантов с ВИЧ и сэкономит деньги российских налогоплательщиков, так как экстренное лечение в запущенных случаях стоит государству более 200 тыс. руб. В Минздраве ранее усомнились в том, что лечить иностранцев с ВИЧ дешевле, чем высылать из страны.

Депутат Федот Тумусов («Справедливая Россия») предложил отменить норму о депортации иностранных граждан и лиц без гражданства с ВИЧ и разрешить им легально лечиться в России. Депутат направил соответствующий законопроект (есть в распоряжении “Ъ”) на отзыв в правительство. Действующий закон «О предупреждении распространения в РФ заболевания, вызываемого вирусом иммунодефицита человека» запрещает иностранным гражданам с ВИЧ въезд в Россию, их временное пребывание и проживание. Если у иностранцев, прошедших тестирование (не на условиях анонимности), выявлена ВИЧ-инфекция, Роспотребнадзор выносит решение о нежелательности их пребывания на территории страны. В пояснительной записке господин Тумусов указывает, что многие иностранцы с ВИЧ, получая такое предписание, на долгие годы уходят на нелегальное положение.

Понимая, что при официальном выявлении ВИЧ-инфекции им навсегда будет закрыт въезд в Россию, мигранты всячески избегают такого тестирования, что вносит негативный вклад в эпидемиологическую ситуацию в России и странах Восточной Европы и Центральной Азии»,— говорится в записке.

В 2015 году, после соответствующего решения Конституционного суда РФ, вышло постановление, запрещающее выдворять мигрантов с ВИЧ, если у них супруг, дети или родители — граждане РФ или иностранцы с видом на жительство в России. Однако, по замечанию депутата, большинству данная поправка не дает возможности легально проживать в стране. Господин Тумусов указывает, что действующее законодательство нарушает права мигрантов на медицинскую помощь и противоречит Государственной стратегии РФ по противодействию распространению ВИЧ до 2030 года. Стратегия предполагает, в частности, что Россия будет оказывать содействие обращению ВИЧ-положительных иностранцев за медицинской помощью, а также оказывать соцподдержку отдельным категориям уязвимых в отношении ВИЧ-инфекции групп населения.

Федот Тумусов отмечает, что мигранты с ВИЧ, отказываясь от антиретровирусной терапии, нередко попадают в стационары и реанимационные отделения «в тяжелом и запущенном состоянии», что увеличивает нагрузку на бюджет РФ.

Господин Тумусов ссылается на результаты исследования экспертной группы по здоровью мигрантов в регионе ВЕЦА (РЭГ), о котором ранее рассказывал “Ъ”. Эксперты подсчитали, что затраты на комплекс обследований, лечения и услуг для одного человека продолжительностью 21 день в стационаре составляют 228 572,6 руб., в то время как годовое амбулаторное лечение ВИЧ-инфекции и обследование обходятся в среднем в 83 084 руб. Федот Тумусов также предлагает организовать лечение за счет средств страны исхода или самого иностранца с ВИЧ. По словам господина Тумусова, страны ближнего зарубежья, откуда массово прибывают трудовые мигранты, в настоящий момент полностью обеспечивают своих граждан антиретровирусными препаратами во время их пребывания в трудовой миграции. Таким образом, подчеркивает депутат, принятие законопроекта не потребует дополнительных расходов федерального бюджета, а, напротив, сэкономит деньги налогоплательщиков.

По данным ЦНИИ эпидемиологии Роспотребнадзора, в России с 1985 года, когда был обнаружен первый случай инфекции, до конца 2019 года выявлено 37 389 ВИЧ-положительных иностранцев. За это же время число россиян с ВИЧ достигло 1 420 975 человек. В исследовании РЭГ обращает внимание на высокую распространенность ВИЧ-инфекции в России — 54,8 человека на 100 тыс. населения. В странах, из которых трудовые мигранты приезжают чаще всего, показатель гораздо ниже: 14,2 — в Таджикистане, 13,2 — в Киргизии, 7,2 — в Азербайджане. Глава Федерального центра по борьбе со СПИДом Вадим Покровский ранее заявил “Ъ”, что в конце 1980-х, когда инфекция действительно обнаруживалась в основном у приезжающих из-за рубежа, в их обследовании и высылке на родину «был какой-то смысл». Уже через несколько лет число россиян—носителей инфекции значительно превышало число иностранцев. Однако практика депортации, по словам эксперта, поддерживалась «ура-патриотами», которые считали, что таким образом «спасают Россию от ВИЧ-инфекции».

По данным Федерации мигрантов России (ФМР), ежегодно в стране примерно у 1,5–2 тыс. иностранных граждан при оформлении трудового патента выявляется ВИЧ-статус.

«Исходя из этого, можно предположить, что у множества мигрантов, не оформляющих патент, также может быть выявлена инфекция, однако данных нет»,— говорит глава ФМР Вадим Коженов. По его словам, ФМР «в целом» поддерживает инициативу Федота Тумусова, так как «современные средства терапии при ВИЧ позволяют делать человека абсолютно неопасным для окружающих».

В Минздраве инициативу депутата “Ъ” не прокомментировали. Ранее в ведомстве заявили, что не согласны с выводами РЭГ об экономической выгоде лечения мигрантов с ВИЧ.

US: Bill proposed in Missouri removes HIV-specific language from state law and reflects more recent research

Changes to HIV laws moving in Missouri Legislature, but anti-discrimination win proves elusive

The Missouri House overwhelmingly backed legislation Monday to ease access to drugs that can help prevent HIV infection, one of several measures lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates are backing in the Legislature this year.

Rep. Phil Christofanelli, R-St. Peters, garnered support from 148 lawmakers, while seven Republicans voted “present,” sending the measure to the Senate. His proposal would allow access at pharmacies to pre- and post-exposure drugs used to prevent infection with HIV, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a disease that disproportionately affects gay and bisexual men and racial and ethnic minorities.

Christofanelli said he has heard stories of people going to emergency rooms to seek post-exposure medication and instead being referred to a specialized HIV clinic.

“That’s really a disgrace . . . because these drugs can save lives,” he said. “And I believe that you should be able to access them wherever is most convenient to you.”

Stephen Eisele, director of the Missouri LGBT advocacy group PROMO, noted in written testimony supporting the bill that HIV/AIDS “disproportionately affects our (LGBT) community” and “affects LGBT Black people and People of Color in our state at even higher rates.”

Under Christofanelli’s proposal, pharmacists would operate with the supervision of a licensed physician and follow strict protocols. Patients would have to follow up with a physician and receive a prescription before getting more than a 30-day supply of the pre-exposure medication.

“I’m hopeful that some of our big pharmacy chains will be the first adopters,” Christofanelli said.

Representatives from both parties praised the proposal.

Even with the House’s passage of Christofanelli’s bill, there appeared to be little-to-no momentum in the GOP-led Legislature behind the long-sought Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, or MONA, which would forbid discrimination in housing and employment based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

This year, the Legislature is believed to have more openly LGBT lawmakers than ever; there currently are six openly LGBT members serving in the Legislature, including Christofanelli, who came out publicly as gay last month.

Eisele said he is asking allies to contact Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, chair of the House Children and Families Committee, to encourage her to hold a hearing on MONA, sponsored by Rep. Tom Hannegan, R-St. Charles.

Eisele said in addition to MONA, his organization’s other priority this year is defeating House Joint Resolution 53, which would ask voters to amend the state constitution in order to ban trans children from playing sports on teams that align with their gender. The resolution has yet to be voted on by the full House.

Another change to state law, which advanced without opposition through two House committees, would remove statutes that specifically criminalize exposing another person to HIV without that person’s knowledge or consent.

The proposal, also by Christofanelli, removes the HIV-specific language from state law, stating an individual infected with “a serious infectious or communicable disease” would be guilty of a Class D felony if they knowingly expose that person to the disease; if the victim contracts the disease, the infected person would be guilty of a Class C felony.

The legislation doesn’t apply to airborne illnesses such as COVID-19.

Eisele, the PROMO director, said the measure would encourage more people to learn their HIV status.

“Our statutes make it less likely that individuals at risk for HIV will seek medical care because, if they do, they could face prosecution for ’knowing’ their status and transmitting HIV,” he said in House testimony. “This statute actively supports negative health outcomes.

Virginia becomes eighth US state since 2012 to modernise its HIV criminalisation laws

Even as Virginia’s Governor, Ralph Northam, signed legislation late last month to modernise the US state’s HIV criminalisation laws, advocates noted that the inclusion of a felony penalty means that more work needs to be done to ensure that HIV criminalisation is finally ended in the state.

As the first US state in the South to modernise its laws (after Illinois, Iowa, Colorado, California, North Carolina, Michigan and Washington), Virginia’s Senate Bill 1138 removes a number of discriminatory laws that are often used against marginalised populations, like sex workers and people who use drugs, and helps bring HIV in line with other sexually transmitted infections for which there is preventative care and treatment.

According to NBC News, the legislation repeals the felony criminal ban on blood, tissue or organ donation by people with HIV and other sexually transmitted infections; makes HIV testing optional (rather than mandatory) for people convicted of certain ‘crimes’, including sex work and drug charges; and strikes down a statute making failure to disclose HIV-positive status before sex a crime.

HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE partners, Positive Women Network-USA (PWN) and the Sero Project (Sero), said the signing was a “culmination of over two years of organizing and advocacy led by ECHO VA–the coalition founded by Positive Women’s Network – USA Virginia State Lead Deirdre Johnson and Dr. Cedric Pulliam–with the collaboration of PWN, Equality Virginia, and the Sero Project.”

They said the signing into law is the latest achievement of the movement to end HIV criminalisation in the United States. “And it’s great news for people living with HIV and who care about ending the HIV epidemic in Virginia,” they added.

However, even as the advocates celebrated this milestone, the new law’s “intentional transmission of HIV”, or “infected sexual battery,” remains a felony in Virginia, rather than a misdemeanor, as proponents had hoped. However, the new legislation now requires proof of actual infection, rather than just an allegation of potential or perceived exposure.

This is something PWN, Sero, and their partners hope to change in the near future. “Our next steps are to continue to work with our partners… to change the felony penalty to a misdemeanor. We are also working on making sure that the news of this historical change reaches communities impacted by these changes.”

Currently, 32 US states still have laws that criminalise HIV non-disclosure and/or potential or perceived HIV exposure, but efforts are currently underway across the US, many of them supported by PWN and Sero, to modernise or repeal these outdated and unjust laws.

Russia: Deporting migrants with HIV from Russia is not only inhumane but also economically unprofitable

State asked to stop expulsion of migrants with HIV

Automated translation via Deepl.com – For original article in Russian, please scroll down.

Representatives of the Regional Expert Group on the Health of Migrants in the EECA region called the current practice of deporting migrants with HIV in Russia not only inhumane but also economically unprofitable. Treatment of neglected cases, when a person hides their status and lives illegally, out of fear of deportation, costs the state more than 200 thousand rubles, the experts estimate. At the same time, if the law allowed them to live and be treated – at their own expense or at the expense of the migrants’ home country, a course of annual therapy would cost about 90 thousand rubles. In 2016, the ECHR already demanded that Russia completely refrain from discriminating against HIV-positive foreigners, but since then, the legislation has not changed.

The Regional Expert Group on the Health of Migrants in the EECA Region (REG) assessed the potential economic benefits of not discriminating against foreigners with HIV-positive status in Russia. The authors of the study concluded that allowing migrants to live and be legally treated in Russia “is not only more beneficial from a humanitarian and epidemiological point of view, but also from an economic one.

A 1995 law prohibits foreign nationals with HIV from entering, staying and residing in Russia. If foreigners who have been tested not anonymously are found to be HIV-positive, Rospotrebnadzor makes a decision on their undesirability to stay in the country. Experts point out that for fear of deportation, many migrant workers hide their disease. They do not take antiretroviral therapy and, in their serious condition, end up in hospitals where they cannot, by law, be denied emergency medical care. The authors calculate that if a patient were to receive the necessary therapy, the cost of treatment would be 83,084 roubles a year, or about 6,924 roubles a month. They note that these costs “with certain legislative amendments” could be paid by the country of origin.

However, if a foreigner with HIV infection does not receive treatment and, as a result, develops complications, inpatient treatment for 21 days and an antiretroviral therapy course will cost 228,572.6 roubles. This treatment option is covered by the budget of the Russian Federation.

The authors draw attention to the high prevalence of HIV infection in Russia, 54.8 people per 100,000 population. In countries from which migrant workers come most frequently, the rate is much lower: 14.2 in Tajikistan, 13.2 in Kyrgyzstan and 7.2 in Azerbaijan. They also cite a recent study by the Russian Ministry of Finance on the impact of HIV on economic and demographic development in Russia. According to the study, the annual loss of society from the uncontrolled spread of HIV infection is about 200 billion roubles. The researchers note that “one of the characteristic features of the current stage of HIV infection in Russia is the expansion of the hidden epidemic among labour migrants who are forced to keep their HIV status secret”.

According to the Central Research Institute of Epidemiology of Rospotrebnadzor, 37,389 HIV-positive foreigners have been identified in Russia since 1985, when the first case of infection was detected, until the end of 2019 (these are those who have been officially tested). In the same time period, the number of HIV-positive Russians has reached 1,420,975. Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the Federal AIDS Center, told Kommersant that given the ratio, the influence of foreigners on the epidemiological situation “is not that great. He said that in the late 1980s, when the infection was indeed found mainly in people arriving from abroad, there was “some sense” in screening them and sending them home. Within a few years, the number of Russians who were infected outnumbered the foreigners, he continued, but the deportations were supported by “hooray patriots,” who believed they were thus “saving Russia from HIV infection. Now, according to Mr. Pokrovsky, the main problem is economic, as treatment is lifelong, expensive and it is unclear at whose expense migrants will receive it.

“In order to implement the proposals in the study, the legislation would need to be amended accordingly. There is no doubt that this will meet with a wave of controversy,” says Mr Pokrovsky.

In 2016, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found Russia guilty of violating the rights of HIV-positive foreigners who were banned from entering and staying in Russia if they had the disease. The year before, following a ruling by the Constitutional Court, it was ruled that if a migrant’s spouse, children or parents are Russian citizens, he or she cannot be expelled. However, the ECHR insisted on a complete rejection of discrimination against HIV-positive persons. The ruling stated that Russia was the only CoE country and one of 16 countries in the world to deport foreigners solely on the basis of their HIV status.

Coordinator of charitable programmes of the Civic Assistance Committee Varvara Tretiak (listed by the Ministry of Justice as a foreign agent) argues that finding a migrant with HIV is almost impossible: people “just go into the shadows”, live and work illegally. The Committee more often has to interact with refugees with HIV-positive status. Ms. Tretiak tells the story of an Uzbek national who sought asylum in Russia after fleeing the country for fear of being prosecuted for homosexuality. He tried to obtain a work permit and underwent a medical examination to do so. However, after being diagnosed with HIV, the “road in the legal field”, according to Varvara Tretiak, was closed to him. As a result, he moved to a third country.

One of the authors of the report, researcher Daniil Kashnitsky of the HSE Institute for Social Policy, told Kommersant that the results of the study will be sent to Rospotrebnadzor, the Ministry of Health and the Interior Ministry. Rospotrebnadzor told Kommersant that legislation on migration policy issues has been “optimized” in recent years. The Ministry also stated that they had not made “any decisions regarding undesirability of stay (residence) of foreign nationals or stateless persons from March 15 until December 15, 2020. The Ministry of Health told Kommersant that the agency “raises big questions about both the methodology and conclusions of the study.


Государство просят отказаться от практики выдворения мигрантов с ВИЧ

Представители Региональной экспертной группы по здоровью мигрантов в регионе ВЕЦА назвали действующую в РФ практику депортации мигрантов с ВИЧ не только негуманной, но экономически невыгодной. Лечение запущенных случаев, когда человек из страха выдворения скрывает статус и живет нелегально, обходится государству более чем в 200 тыс. руб., подсчитали эксперты. При этом если бы закон позволял им жить и лечиться — за свой счет или за счет родной страны мигрантов, курс годовой терапии стоил бы около 90 тыс. руб. В 2016 году ЕСПЧ уже требовал от России полного отказа от дискриминации ВИЧ-инфицированных иностранцев, однако с тех пор законодательство так и не изменилось.

Региональная экспертная группа по здоровью мигрантов в регионе ВЕЦА (РЭГ) оценила потенциальную экономическую пользу от отказа от дискриминации иностранцев с ВИЧ-положительным статусом в России. Авторы исследования пришли к выводу, что позволить мигрантам жить и легально лечиться на территории России «выгоднее не только с гуманитарной и эпидемиологической, но и с экономической точки зрения».

Закон от 1995 года запрещает иностранным гражданам с ВИЧ въезд в Россию, их временное пребывание и проживание. Если у иностранцев, прошедших тестирование не на условиях анонимности, выявлена ВИЧ-инфекция, Роспотребнадзор выносит решение о нежелательности их пребывания на территории страны. Эксперты обращают внимание, что из-за страха депортации многие трудовые мигранты скрывают заболевание. Они не принимают антиретровирусную терапию и в тяжелом состоянии попадают в больницы, где им по закону не могут отказать в экстренной медицинской помощи. Авторы подсчитали, что если пациент будет получать необходимую терапию, стоимость лечения составит 83 084 руб. в год, или примерно 6924 руб. в месяц. Они отмечают, что эти затраты «при внесении определенных поправок в законодательство» могут быть оплачены за счет страны исхода.

При этом если иностранец с ВИЧ-инфекцией не получает терапию, вследствие чего у него развиваются осложнения, стационарное лечение длительностью 21 день и курс антиретровирусной терапии обойдутся в 228 572,6 руб. Этот вариант лечения обеспечивается за счет бюджета РФ.

Авторы обращают внимание на высокую распространенность ВИЧ-инфекции в России — 54,8 человека на 100 тыс. населения. В странах, из которых трудовые мигранты приезжают чаще всего, показатель гораздо ниже: 14,2 — в Таджикистане, 13,2 — в Киргизии, 7,2 — в Азербайджане. Кроме того, они ссылаются на недавнее исследование Минфина России о влиянии ВИЧ на экономическое и демографическое развитие РФ. Согласно его данным, ежегодные потери общества от неконтролируемого распространения ВИЧ-инфекции составляют примерно 200 млрд руб. Исследователи отмечают, что «одной из характерных черт современного этапа распространения ВИЧ-инфекции в РФ является расширение масштабов скрытой эпидемии среди трудовых мигрантов, вынужденных держать свой ВИЧ-статус в тайне».

По данным ЦНИИ эпидемиологии Роспотребнадзора, в России с 1985 года, когда был обнаружен первый случай инфекции, до конца 2019 года было выявлено 37 389 ВИЧ-положительных иностранцев (речь о тех, кто прошел обследование официально). За это же время число ВИЧ-инфицированных россиян достигло 1 420 975 человек. Глава федерального центра по борьбе со СПИДом Вадим Покровский сказал “Ъ”, что, учитывая соотношение, влияние иностранцев на эпидемиологическую ситуацию «не такое уж большое». По его словам, в конце 1980-х, когда инфекция действительно обнаруживалась в основном у приезжающих из-за рубежа, в их обследовании и высылке на родину «был какой-то смысл». Уже через несколько лет число россиян—носителей инфекции значительно превышало число иностранцев, продолжает он, однако практика депортации поддерживалась «ура-патриотами», которые считали, что таким образом «спасают Россию от ВИЧ-инфекции». Сейчас, по мнению господина Покровского, основная проблема — экономическая, так как лечение пожизненное, дорогостоящее и непонятно, за чей счет мигранты будут его получать.

“Для того чтобы реализовать те предложения, о которых идет речь в исследовании, нужно внести соответствующие изменения в законодательство. Несомненно, это встретит волну споров»,— говорит господин Покровский.

Отметим, в 2016 году Европейский суд по правам человека (ЕСПЧ) признал Россию виновной в нарушении прав ВИЧ-положительных иностранцев, которым при наличии этого заболевания был запрещен въезд и пребывание в РФ. За год до этого, после соответствующего решения Конституционного суда, вышло постановление, что если у мигранта супруг, дети или родители — граждане РФ, его нельзя выдворять. Однако ЕСПЧ настаивал на полном отказе от дискриминации ВИЧ-инфицированных лиц. В решении говорилось, что Россия является единственной страной СЕ и одной из 16 стран в мире, которая депортирует иностранцев только на основании их ВИЧ-статуса.

Координатор благотворительных программ комитета «Гражданское содействие» (внесен Минюстом в список иноагентов) Варвара Третяк утверждает, что найти мигранта с ВИЧ практически невозможно: люди «просто уходят в тень», живут и работают нелегально. Комитету чаще приходится взаимодействовать с беженцами с ВИЧ-положительным статусом. Госпожа Третяк рассказывает историю гражданина Узбекистана, который, покинув страну из страха уголовного преследования за гомосексуализм, просил убежища в РФ. Он попытался получить патент на работу и для этого прошел медобследование. Однако после выявления ВИЧ «дорога в легальном поле», по словам Варвары Третяк, для него была закрыта. В результате он переехал в третью страну.

Один из авторов доклада, научный сотрудник Института социальной политики ВШЭ Даниил Кашницкий сообщил “Ъ”, что результаты исследования будут направлены в Роспотребнадзор, Минздрав и МВД. В Роспотребнадзоре “Ъ” заявили, что в последние годы законодательство по вопросам миграционной политики «оптимизируется». В ведомстве также заявили, что не принимали «решения о нежелательности пребывания (проживания) в отношении иностранных граждан или лиц без гражданства с 15 марта до 15 декабря 2020 года». В Минздраве “Ъ” сообщили, что в ведомстве «вызывают большие вопросы как методология, так и выводы исследования».

US: The Coverage of a recent case of HIV criminalisation in Ohio shows why the law needs to change

Dayton Man’s Arrest Shines Light on Ohio’s Outdated Laws on HIV Criminalization

The February arrest of a Dayton man is highlighting Ohio’s laws on HIV criminalization and the need for reform.

The 50-year-old Dayton resident faces charges of felony assault after police say he offered an undercover detective oral sex during a sting and didn’t reveal he “tested positive for a virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.”

The man used adult websites and telephone apps to offer free sex at his home, according to a press release issued by Dayton Police.

“[He] did so without disclosing his status as a carrier of AIDS. Investigators are concerned that there may be other persons, over a period of years, whom have interacted sexually with [him]who may also be victims,” said Cara Zinksi-Neace, spokeswoman for Dayton Police, in the press release.

In addition to conflating HIV and AIDS in the press release, the Dayton Police also included a clear picture of the man’s house and the name of his less-than-a-mile long street.

The arrest, the police press release, and the nature of the charges the man faces are evidence of a climate in Ohio that advocates of HIV decriminalization say desperately need to change.

Eight states, including nearby Michigan and Illinois, have reformed or repealed one or more parts of their HIV-specific criminal laws, but Ohio is one of 32 states that have HIV-specific criminal laws and/or sentence enhancements applicable to people living with HIV.

From the Center for HIV Law & Policy

 

The Laws

Ohio  currently has 6 separate statutes on the books that criminalize living with HIV, most notably a felony assault charge that specifically calls out the virus. According to Ohio’s Revised Code § 2903.11, “No person, with knowledge that the person has tested positive as a carrier of a virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, shall knowingly…engage in sexual conduct with another person without disclosing that knowledge to the other person prior to engaging in the sexual conduct.”

A conviction under the law can result in up to an 8-year prison sentence.

Additionally, people living with HIV face higher penalties if charged with crimes that involve sex work, including prostitution, solicitation, or loitering to engage in solicitation.

“Ohio’s has some of the most backwards and stigmatizing laws in the country,” says Dwayne Steward, Director of Prevention for Equitas Health, a regional nonprofit community healthcare system and one of the largest LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS serving healthcare organizations in the United States.

Steward said that these laws have been around for decades and feature outdated language stemming from the fear-based public opinion formed during the early part of the AIDS epidemic, as opposed to language derived from modern science.

“For instance, it still says in these laws that someone can be prosecuted for exchanging saliva with another person, even though we know that—scientifically—HIV can not be transmitted in this way,” explains Steward.

Kim Welter, Facilitator of the Ohio Health Modernization Movement (OHMM) working to reform the state’s statues HIV criminalization, is quick to point out one of the biggest misconceptions about the relationship between these laws and HIV transmission

“The current laws in no way require transmission,” says Welter. “You could have a situation where there is no actual harm done, but an individual with HIV could end up serving time, and actually even serve more time than someone who is arrested for the exact same offense who doesn’t have HIV.”

Dayton Arrest and Press Release

When Bryan C. Jones first heard about the Dayton arrest and read the local news coverage with the accompanying police statement—describing the arrested individual as a “carrier of AIDS”—he experienced a range of emotions. A founding member of OHMM, the news hit close to home for Jones.

“As a person who has been living with AIDS for 37 years, I was scared at first and then I was outraged,” says Jones. “A ‘carrier of AIDS’? Come on. That sounds like the language from the 80s. Those words shocked me.”

When reached by The Buckeye Flame, Zinski-Neace said the Dayton Police department does not issue press releases for every arrest, but did not explain why one was created for this arrest. The department declined to provide further comment for this story beyond what was in the press release.

Welter highlights that it compromises the man’s safety to include a photo of the man’s house on a short street the police identified and that there are details that were left out of the police report and media coverage that make a real difference with regard to outcomes. She points out that adding the Dayton man’s HIV status creates a sensationalized aspect to the story, but does not answer some key questions.

“We don’t know if he is on medication, if he is virally suppressed, if he is undetectable, or if he was engaging in activity that is likely to even have a chance of transmitting the virus,” says Welter. “We don’t know any of that. But then the coverage gives this idea that there are thousands of victims when the chance of transmitting HIV through oral sex is very, very low. It gets people to read a headline, but it’s not scientifically accurate.”

Jones agrees that the coverage does more harm than good.

“This misinformation goes counter to public health interests,” says Jones. “This exacerbates the stigma and perpetuates people living in fear.”

Reforming the Laws

The efforts to reform the laws in Ohio that criminalize HIV have been going on for years, with groups like OHMM leading the way. A critical step for their movement: raising awareness that these laws even exist.

“When I speak to people at gay pride, LGBTQ people don’t even know about these laws,” says Jones. “People living with HIV still have rights and it’s important to arm yourself with accurate information, and especially so if you are confronted with this situation.”

OHMM, in partnership in the Legal Clinic at Equality Ohio, have published materials to help educate individuals about their rights in the event of a police interaction. Tips include maintaining evidence (documents, screenshots, etc.) proving disclosure, not disclosing HIV status to law enforcement officers without a lawyer present, and not consenting to medical tests should police ask for the individual to submit to tests voluntarily.

For those individuals who may be aware of the statutes criminalizing HIV, the effects of these laws can have a direct relationship with those choosing not to get tested for HIV.

“There are people who believe if they don’t know, they can’t be prosecuted,” explains Steward. “It keeps people from engaging in healthcare and further creates health disparities.”

OHMM is hard at work partnering with other organizations hoping to introduce legislative language this Spring aimed at modernizing Ohio’s HIV criminalization statutes. All three counties participating in the national End the HIV Epidemic campaign—Cuyahoga, Franklin, and Hamilton—have included modernizing the criminal code as part of their plans. Lawmakers in Virginia recently approved legislation to modernize their HIV criminalization laws, one of 9 states actively engaging with the process of decriminalization.

Until the laws are reformed, advocates stress that knowledge about these statutes is critically important, particularly when a story like the arrest in Dayton grabs the headlines.

“Start a conversation. Tell someone else about these laws,” urges Jones. “Everyone needs to know more than they do, because the ignorance in this case can really cause serious damage.” 🔥

Ignite Action:

  • Learn more about Ohio Health Modernization Movement (OHMM) by visiting their website
  • Start a conversation with someone else about HIV decriminalization.