[Update]US: Missouri Governor signs bill that modernises HIV criminalisation laws

Missouri Updates HIV Laws Criminalizing Transmission For The First Time In Over 30 Years

For the first time since enacting HIV laws in the 1980s, Missouri will update its laws that make it a crime to expose a person to the virus. Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday signed a bill that reduces the charges a person faces for transmitting the virus.

Missouri joins a number of states that have passed such legislation this year. Legislatures around the country are moving to correct HIV laws that were based on false assumptions about how the virus is transmitted.

Advocacy groups and politicians in Missouri successfully lobbied for SB 53, a sweeping measure affecting police and prosecutors, to include changes to the state’s HIV laws after years of attempts to pass similar legislation. Public health professionals say laws criminalizing HIV have not reduced transmission of the virus.

Under the new law, prosecutors must prove someone “knowingly” exposed a person to the virus to obtain a felony conviction. The measure also reduces the minimum sentence from 10 years to 3 years, if the person contracts HIV. A previous law made it a felony crime in Missouri to “recklessly” expose another person to HIV, which is harder to defend in court.

Missouri’s updated law goes into effect on Aug. 28.

While the Missouri HIV Justice Coalition wants state lawmakers to eliminate laws against transmitting the virus, some advocates say the law lessening penalties is still a victory for the more than 13,000 people in Missouri who live with HIV.

“We still feel like it’s a really strong step in the right direction, to make sure that the laws are medically accurate and are charging people at an appropriate level,” said Mallory Rusch, executive director for Empower Missouri, an advocacy group within the HIV Justice Coalition that lobbied for the bill’s passage.

Advocates argued the old law was outdated, since modern medication can reduce people’s viral load to undetectable levels. People who are consistently on HIV treatment for at least six months cannot transmit HIV to others.

The former law treated all HIV-positive people as if they were a public health risk, Rusch said. The new law updates language to correct misconceptions about how HIV is transmitted. HIV transmission doesn’t occur through saliva or touching. It’s very rarely transmitted through biting or oral sex.

“[The old laws] were based on faulty assumptions about science, and it’s no fault of the legislature at the time, it’s just all they knew,” said Rep. Phil Christofanelli, R-St. Peters, who filed the bill in the House. “Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, when HIV entered the public consciousness, the legislators at the time first thought it was a death sentence.”

Public health professionals say they still feel the consequences of faulty science and outdated laws.

“It put people living with HIV in a position to where, number one, they’re criminalized unfairly, but two propagated the stigma and the shame that still persists around people living with HIV,” said Dr. Matifadza Hlatshwayo Davis, an infectious disease specialist at Washington University School of Medicine.

Davis, who has treated people with HIV for more than a decade, said laws that penalized HIV transmission discouraged people from getting tested because if people didn’t know their HIV status, they couldn’t be charged.

But that also led to people forgoing necessary treatment.

“If people don’t see this big fear about being criminalized, they may be more willing to take a test to find out what their status is,” said Erise Williams Jr., CEO of Williams and Associates, a public health agency in St. Louis that has a robust HIV program.

Since 1990, more than 100 people in Missouri have been convicted of an HIV crime, according to the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA Law.

The institute found Black men account for half of HIV crime arrests and convictions in the state, despite being only 5.5% of the state’s population.

In St. Charles County, a Black student at Lindenwood University made national headlines in 2015 when a judge sentenced him to 30 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of infecting one partner with HIV and endangering four others. An appeals court later ruled that Michael L. Johnson’s trial was “fundamentally unfair” and granted him parole after he had served five years.

Public health professionals say Johnson’s and other high-profile cases of alleged intentional HIV transmission have distorted the public’s view that this is a common occurrence and have instead undermined efforts to prevent infections.

That’s led lawmakers in Nevada, Illinois and Oregon to change their HIV laws this year, either adjusting punishments for transmission or expanding access to HIV medication.

Illinois’ legislature recently passed a bill to completely decriminalize HIV, which would make it only the second state to do so, after Texas. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has yet to sign the bill into law.

Missouri expands access to HIV preventive medication

Missouri’s Republican-controlled legislature also passed a bill during the 2021 session to allow pharmacists to dispense HIV medication. Parson signed the bill into law last month, making Missouri the fourth state to do so.

Pharmacists must be trained by a doctor before they can give someone post-exposure prophylaxis.

If the medication is started within 72 hours of an HIV exposure, it can greatly decrease chances of contracting the virus. But getting the pill during that crucial window can be difficult in rural areas with few health care providers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 13 mostly rural counties in Missouri are at risk for an HIV outbreak.

Rep. Christofanelli co-sponsored the bill to make the drug more accessible. Medicaid and Medicare both cover PEP.

“I think public health issues cross party boundaries,” he said. “HIV is something that’s affecting this entire state whether you live in a rural area community or an urban or suburban community, like mine. And Missouri has continued to come up on national news stories for the prevalence of spread of HIV across our state.”

Published in December in Empower Missouri

Lawmakers Pass Legislation To Update Missouri’s Outdated HIV Criminalization Laws

After decades on the books, Missouri lawmakers have finally passed legislation to update the criminal codes dealing with the prosecution of people living with HIV.

The legislation, introduced by Senator Holly Rehder (R-27) and Representative Phil Christofanelli (R-105), rewrites Missouri’s HIV-specific criminal laws. The bill would lower the penalties under the HIV exposure statute and raise the level of intent a prosecutor would need to prove in order to convict someone of a felony. The legislation also updates the law to be consistent with medical science by limiting the law to only cover activities that have been scientifically shown to create a substantial risk of transmission. Further, the measure would combat the stigma associated with HIV by ending the singling out of HIV and instead  making the law apply to all “serious non-airborne infectious or communicable diseases.”

Missouri’s current law allows prosecutors to charge an HIV-positive person with a felony based on whether she or he can prove they disclosed their HIV status to their sexual partner. If someone knows they are living with HIV but does not disclose their status before engaging in certain activities considered to be “exposure”— some of which don’t carry any risk of transmission — they can be charged with a class A felony (punishable by 15-30 years in prison) if transmission occurs and with a class B felony (punishable by five to fifteen years in prison), even if no HIV transmission actually occurs. And several Missouri laws punish people living with HIV at a higher level simply because of their HIV status.

Between 1990 and 2019, at least 593 people have been arrested in Missouri for an HIV/hepatitis crime, including 318 who were convicted for those crimes. Missouri has had one arrest for an HIV crime for every 60 people living with HIV in Missouri.

The Missouri HIV Justice Coalition, Empower Missouri, not-for-profits focusing on health care and better public policy, and long-term HIV survivors have supported rewriting the HIV criminalization laws for the last five years.

Empower Missouri’s Executive Director Mallory Rusch said, “We are thankful that Missouri lawmakers have finally taken a step in the right direction and have updated the state’s outdated and medically inaccurate HIV criminalization laws. Empower Missouri believes the updated law will reduce stigma associated with HIV and, in turn, encourage more people to get proper testing and treatment..”

Empower Missouri is pleased with the passage of the legislation, but will also continue to advocate for additional changes to the criminal code in future sessions, including removing the sentencing enhancement for people living with HIV who are charged with prostitution.

“Many people do not know that there have been significant strides in the prevention, testing, and treatment of HIV,” said Rusch. “HIV is often treatable with one pill a day, and people living with HIV have the same life expectancy as the average person with proper treatment. Updating these laws to reflect medical advances is critical to basic justice and fairness to all Missourians.”

In 2019, Missouri had roughly 13,000 people living with HIV, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Many are in the south central part of the state, includingBates, Cedar, St. Francois, Hickory, Wayne, Ozark, Wright, Iron, Madison, Reynolds, Ripley, Crawford and Washington counties.

Empower Missouri staffs the Missouri HIV Justice Coalition and welcomes participation by people living with HIV. Details may be found at: https://empowermissouri.org/hiv-justice-coalition/.

Published on Dec 3, 2020 in the Missouri Times

Lawmakers promote legislation to ‘decriminalize HIV’ on World AIDS Day

Rep. Phil Christofanelli and incoming Sens. Holly Rehder and Greg Razer pre-filed legislation to change Missouri’s laws regarding people with HIV on World AIDS Day Tuesday.

“It’s special that we get to file our bills on this day,” Rehder told The Missouri Times. “We’ve had so many advancements in HIV treatment since the 80s when our statutes were put in place, and medical professionals, researchers, and scientists know so much more about it now than they did. Living with HIV is not a death sentence any longer, and it’s incredibly important to remove the stigma.”

The legislators joined a virtual press conference with multiple advocacy groups Tuesday, where Rehder outlined her planned legislation. She said she will sponsor a “harm reduction package” which includes establishing a statewide Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), ensures safe syringe access, and modernizes the state’s HIV regulations. The provisions were staples of her tenure in the House.

Current Missouri statute mandates an individual who is knowingly infected with HIV not act in a “reckless” way that could expose another person to the disease without his or her knowledge or consent. Violating the statute could result in a Class A or B felony, depending on if another individual contracted HIV.

The way the statute is written deters people from finding out his or her status and seeking appropriate treatment, advocates say. The statute also suggests an HIV diagnosis is equivalent to a death sentence, but Rehder said modern medicine tells a different story.

The bill would update the language to reflect more recent research on the disease since the law was enacted in the 1980s, including removing spitting from the list of “reckless” actions.

Christofanelli said he would sponsor two HIV-related bills in the lower chamber next year, including a similar modernization provision.

“I think that we need to let people know that while science has not yet found a way to cure HIV, we certainly have the tools at our disposal to end HIV if we take the correct actions,” Christofanelli said. “To that end, I intend to file two pieces of legislation in the upcoming session in order to put Missouri at the forefront of preventing the spread of HIV in our communities and helping those afflicted with the disease.”

The other piece would concern Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PREP), relatively new treatments for the disease. The bill would allow pharmacists to screen patients and prescribe the treatment over-the-counter. Now, patients must make a doctor’s appointment to receive a prescription for PREP which could cause them to receive it past the critical three-day exposure period. The bill would also allow patients to receive a 30-day prescription of PEP after receiving a negative test for HIV. He said the use of the treatments greatly reduced the risk of contracting HIV.

Razer said he would be handling the bill on the Senate side.

“Our state’s HIV-specific law was originally passed in the late ’80s, when our cultural understanding of HIV was informed by fear and stigma,” Missouri HIV Justice Organizer Molly Pearson said. “Thanks to advances in modern medicine, people living with HIV can live long, healthy lives without transmitting the virus. Using criminalization as a public health intervention simply does not work, and it upholds the stigma and fear of HIV that got us here in the first place.”

World AIDS Day has been observed on Dec. 1 every year since 1988. The day was set aside to educate the public about the disease and examine the future of the fight against it.

Tuesday was also the first day of pre-filing for the Missouri legislature.

France: Blood donations to meet the same health safety requirements, regardless of one’s sexuality

Blood donation: The end of the distinction between gay and straight promised for 2022

Translated from French with Deepl.com – For original article, please scroll down

The French National Assembly has passed an amendment allowing gay & bisexual men to donate blood under the same conditions as heterosexual men. The measure is due to come into force in 2022.
Are we heading towards the end of discrimination? This Tuesday evening, the National Assembly voted on an amendment to the bioethics bill concerning blood donation. At the request of the government, parliamentarians lifted the abstinence period still required for men who have sex with men (MSM), whether gay or bisexual. According to our information, the reform will come into force on 1 January 2022.

“The criteria for selecting donors (…) may not be based on any difference in treatment, in particular with regard to the sex of the partner or partners with whom the donors have had a sexual relationship,” says the amendment to Article 7 bis of the bioethics bill. Currently, in order to pass the screening process at the French Blood Establishment (EFS), MSM must have previously respected a four-month period of abstinence, effectively excluding many of them from donating blood.

Blood donation and HIV (over)risk
The Minister of Health publicly welcomed the vote. “Giving blood will meet the same health safety requirements, regardless of one’s sexuality. Parliament has just voted in principle. I will align the donor selection criteria in the coming months,” he wrote on Twitter.

However, a year ago, Olivier Véran considered it “dangerous” to go through the law to put an end to this discrimination, considering that it “is really not the right tool”. At the time, the left and the right were defending an amendment to this effect. “There is a serological window, a few days during which a person can be contaminated without being detected (…). Statistically, there is an excess risk (among MSM), not because of sexuality but because of a practice,” the minister argued in July 2020, quoted by HuffPost.

Olivier Véran therefore pleaded for the reduction of the abstinence period to be carried out by regulation (i.e. by executive decree), so that it could be reinstated in the event of a problem: “If there were a situation, which would not even be linked to HIV, but which would oblige us to put in place emergency measures to protect recipients and donors, we would no longer be able to do so (otherwise).

A major difference
However, the new version voted by the Assembly contains a difference that changes everything. The amendment states that donor selection criteria may not be based on discrimination “not justified by the need to protect the donor or the recipient”. A possibility is left open to reconsider the donor selection criteria. “This wording is an open door to differential treatment. I have the feeling that the government wants to give pledges but cannot go all the way”, analysed for TÊTU the PS deputy Hervé Saulignac, who brought the initial amendment.

This year, it was not Olivier Véran who argued in the Assembly but Adrien Taquet, Secretary of State for Child Protection. “The Minister of Health had undertaken to present new elements. (…) The residual risk of HIV among blood donors has decreased considerably in recent years. Santé Publique France now estimates it at 1 in 11.6 million donations,” he said.

Following the British model, which will start next week, a new non-discriminatory questionnaire will be offered to donors. From 14 June in the UK, donation will be open to people who have had the same sexual partner for three months, who have not had a recent exposure to an STI or who are PrEP users. In France, “these changes can be implemented from the beginning of next year”, the Secretary of State promised. Contacted by TÊTU, the Ministry of Health gave a date: 1 January 2022.

Don du sang : la fin de la distinction entre gay et hétéro promise pour 2022

L’Assemblée nationale a voté un amendement autorisant les hommes gays et bis à donner leur sang dans les mêmes conditions que les hétéros. La mesure doit entrer en application en 2022.

Se dirige-t-on vers la fin d’une discrimination ? Ce mardi 8 juin au soir, l’Assemblée nationale a voté un amendement au projet de loi bioéthique concernant le don du sang. Sur demande du gouvernement, les parlementaires ont levé la durée d’abstinence toujours demandée aux hommes qui ont des relations sexuelles avec des hommes (HSH), qu’ils soient gays ou bis. Selon nos informations, la réforme entrera en vigueur le 1er janvier 2022.

“Les critères de sélection des donneurs (…) ne peuvent être fondés sur aucune différence de traitement, notamment en ce qui concerne le sexe du ou des partenaires avec lequel les donneurs auraient entretenus une relation sexuelle”, indique l’amendement à l’article 7 bis du projet de loi bioéthique. Actuellement, pour pouvoir passer la sélection opérée lors d’un rendez-vous à l’Établissement français du sang (EFS), les HSH doivent avoir respecté au préalable une période d’abstinence de quatre mois, excluant de fait bon nombre d’entre eux du don du sang.

Don du sang et (sur-)risque de VIH

Le ministre de la Santé s’est félicité publiquement du vote. “Donner son sang répondra aux mêmes impératifs de sécurité sanitaire, et ce quelle que soit sa sexualité. Le parlement vient d’en voter le principe. J’alignerai ainsi les critères de sélection des donneurs dans les prochains mois”, a-t-il écrit sur Twitter.

Pourtant il y a encore un an, Olivier Véran jugeait “dangereux” de passer par la loi pour mettre fin à cette discrimination, considérant que ce “n’est vraiment pas le bon outil”. À l’époque, la gauche défendait main dans la main avec la droite un amendement en ce sens. “Il y a une fenêtre sérologique, quelques jours pendant lesquels une personne peut être contaminée sans que l’on puisse le détecter (…). Statistiquement, il y a un sur-risque (chez les HSH), non pas en raison de la sexualité mais d’une pratique”, faisait valoir le ministre en juillet 2020, cité par le HuffPost.

Olivier Véran plaidait donc pour que la réduction du délai d’abstinence passe plutôt par voie réglementaire (donc par décret de l’exécutif), manière de pouvoir le réinstaller en cas de problème : “S’il y avait une situation, qui n’aurait même pas de lien avec le VIH mais qui nous obligerait à mettre en place des mesures d’urgence pour protéger les receveurs et les donneurs, nous ne pourrions plus le faire (sinon).

Une différence de taille

La nouvelle mouture votée par l’Assemblée comporte néanmoins une différence qui change tout. Les critères de sélection des donneurs n’y peuvent être fondés, est-il écrit dans l’amendement, sur une discrimination “non justifiée par la nécessité de protéger le donneur ou le receveur”Une possibilité laissée ouverte de revenir sur les critères de sélection des donneurs. “Cette formulation est une porte ouverte à une différence de traitement. J’ai le sentiment que le gouvernement souhaite donner des gages mais n’arrive pas à aller jusqu’au bout”, analyse pour TÊTU le député PS Hervé Saulignac, qui a porté l’amendement initial.

Cette année, ce n’est pas Olivier Véran qui a argumenté à l’Assemblée mais Adrien Taquet, secrétaire d’État chargé de la protection de l’enfance. “Le ministre de la Santé s’était engagé à présenter des éléments nouveaux. (…) Le risque résiduel du VIH chez les donneurs de sang a considérablement diminué ces dernières années. Santé Publique France l’évalue maintenant 1 sur 11,6 millions de dons”, a-t-il indiqué.

Sur le modèle britannique, qui s’y met la semaine prochaine, un nouveau questionnaire non discriminant sera proposé aux donneurs. Ainsi à partir du 14 juin outre-Manche, le don sera ouvert aux personnes qui ont eu le même partenaire sexuel pendant trois mois, qui n’ont pas eu d’exposition récente à une IST ou encore, qui sont utilisateurs de la PrEP. En France, “ces évolutions pourront être mises en oeuvre dès le début de l’année prochaine”, a promis le secrétaire d’État. Contacté par TÊTU, le ministère de la Santé donne une date : le 1er janvier 2022.


US: Review of prosecutions under Michigan’s former HIV law leads to motion to dismiss case in Ingham county

Ingham County prosecutor orders review of HIV felony convictions

Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon ordered her team on Friday to review all prosecutions brought by the county under Michigan’s former felony law AIDS — Sexual Penetration with Uninformed Partner. The review found only two prosecutions. One case was dropped, but another, from 1999 remains a pending case.

Siemon has ordered her staff to file a motion refusing prosecution in the case.

“It is inconsistent with my focus on equity and anti-discrimination to charge or prosecute charges under this discriminatory and fear-based statute (the misdemeanor charges that replaced the felony charge in 2019 appropriately requires an individual to specifically intend to transmit their infections by taking actions to transmit it),” wrote in an email to Michigan Advance.

The former felony law criminalized any sexual penetration “however slight” without first disclosing an HIV-positive diagnosis to a partner. The law was adopted in 1988 and went into effect in 1989. Prosecutors were not required to prove an intent to harm in the prosecution, which advocates had called unfair.

She went on, “Certainly, the national racial disparities in who has been charged under similar laws and the additional serious and collateral consequence of potentially having to register under the Sexual Offender Registration Act are very troubling. This means that even a misdemeanor warrant request, if ever received, would be scrutinized carefully to ensure that not only could the crime elements be proven beyond a reasonable doubt but that it is overall in the interest of justice to do so.”

Siemon, who has come under pressure from victim’s families for what they perceive as her soft on criminal’s approach to justice, said the review and subsequent action to decline prosecution were motivated after reading Advance’s story about the struggle of Jeremy Merithew. Merithew was convicted under the old felony law, updated in 2019, and spent years in prison. He was ordered to enroll on the sex offender list for 25 years. He is attempting to get a pardon from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

[Update]US: Nevada Governor signs law that will modernise HIV laws in line with other communicable diseases

Governor Sisolak Signs into Law Legislation Modernizing Nevada’s HIV Laws

HENDERSON, NV – Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak today signed into law landmark legislation to reform outdated Nevada laws that criminalized and stigmatized people living with HIV. Senate Bill (SB) 275 was introduced by Senator Dallas Harris, received bipartisan support in the Senate, and it was supported by a broad alliance of advocacy groups, public health professionals, civil rights organizations and health care providers including Silver State Equality, Nevada’s statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, and a partner of the Nevada HIV Modernization Coalition.

Senate Bill (SB) 275, introduced by Sen. Dallas Harris, won approval with a unanimous vote in the Nevada Senate and by a 26-15 vote in the Assembly. The bill moved to the Governor for his signature.

On the importance of signing the bill into law Governor Sisolak said:

“Nevada is known as a warm and welcoming place for all– in our State, we celebrate our diversity. I am so grateful to sign legislation to ensure that our LGBTQ+ community feels safe, protected and can continue to grow and flourish in the Silver State. Senate Bill 275, sponsored by Senator Harris and presented in partnership with André Wade and former Senator David Parks, modernizes Nevada’s HIV criminal laws and reestablishes the Advisory Task Force on HIV Exposure Modernization for the 2021-2022 Legislative Interim. We know that laws that criminalize people living with HIV don’t stop the spread, but they actually hurt our public health efforts.”

Silver State Equality released the following statement from State Director André C. Wade:

“Today, Nevada recognizes HIV as a public health issue, not a criminal one. issue. With his signature, Governor Sisolak has moved Nevada HIV laws into the 21st century by aligning them with modern science, ultimately helping to reduce stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV. When people are no longer penalized for knowing their status, it encourages them to come forward, get tested and get treatment. That’s good for all Nevadans. The HIV epidemic will end not by threatening people with criminal prosecution, but instead, by encouraging people to get tested, and by providing them access to care. Today’s signing is especially great news for Nevada communities of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community, who are disproportionately impacted by HIV.”

Senator Dallas Harris, Co-Chair of the Advisory Task Force on HIV Exposure Modernization, said:

“Nevada state law will no longer discourage Nevadans from getting tested for HIV. With the Governor’s signature today, we are helping to reduce the stigma that keeps some from learning their HIV status and getting treatment. I want to thank Governor Sisolak for his actions that are keeping Nevada at the forefront in the fight to stop the spread of HIV. Much work remains to be done, but I’m optimistic that eventually these discriminatory criminal laws targeting those living with HIV will be eliminated throughout the country.”

Statement from the Co-Chairs of the Nevada HIV Modernization Coalition – Connie Shearer, Chris Reynolds, and Stephan Page:

“The Nevada HIV Modernization Coalition members would like to thank Senators David Parks and Dallas Harris for their unwavering commitment to modernizing Nevada’s laws that were stigmatizing and harmful. The passing of SB275 is a great step forward toward ending the unwarranted criminalization of people living with HIV in Nevada and it supports science. This in turn supports and promotes public health for all Nevadans.”

A Statement from Connie Shearer, Co-Chair Nevada HIV Modernization Coalition:

“The Nevada HIV Modernization Coalition members would like to thank Senators David Parks and Dallas Harris for their unwavering commitment to modernizing Nevada’s laws that were stigmatizing and harmful. The passing of SB275 is a great step forward toward ending the unwarranted criminalization of people living with HIV in Nevada and it supports science. This in turn supports and promotes public health for all Nevadans.”

The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation issued the following statement:

“The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation salutes Governor Sisolak for signing much needed legislative reform for people living with HIV represented in SB 275. We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Harris in championing this bill. We congratulate the Nevada HIV Modernization Coalition and Silver State Equality for their hard work in achieving this long-awaited reform. With the voice of our founder, Elizabeth Taylor, we stand with all organizations throughout the country who are striving to reform these discriminatory laws. We are appreciative for the opportunity to have been of support in Nevada.”

For more information, visit www.silverstateequality.org/hiv.

Published on May 26, 2021, in GlobeNewsWire

Nevada Legislature Passes Bill to Modernize State’s HIV Laws

Garnering bipartisan support, legislation will fix Nevada’s outdated, ineffective, discriminatory HIV criminal laws.

CARSON CITY, Nev., May 26, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) —

Silver State Equality, Nevada’s statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization and a partner of the Nevada HIV Modernization Coalition, praised Nevada legislators Wednesday for their bipartisan passage of legislation that modernizes Nevada’s HIV criminal laws.

Senate Bill (SB) 275, introduced by Sen. Dallas Harris, won approval with a unanimous vote in the Nevada Senate and by a 26-15 vote in the Assembly. The bill now moves to the Governor for his signature.

The bill repeals a Nevada statute that makes it a felony for someone who has tested positive for HIV to intentionally, knowingly or willfully engage in conduct that is intended or likely to transmit the disease. Repealing that statute means a person who has contracted HIV and who engaged in such behavior would instead be given a warning as their first offense and, after a second offense, would be guilty of a misdemeanor — a punishment that is consistent with the treatment of other communicable diseases.

The bipartisan show of support impressed HIV activists who have been advocating for years to reform state laws that criminalize HIV with the goal of ensuring they are sync with advances in modern medicine that make transmission of the virus impossible.

Silver State Equality released the following statement from State Director André C. Wade, who — along with Sen. Harris — serves as Co-Chair of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services’ Advisory Task Force on HIV Exposure Modernization:

“We are extremely pleased with the passage of SB 275 via a strong bipartisan vote. This action will advance the fight against HIV transmission and help to remove HIV stigma that was perpetuated by outdated criminal laws that discouraged disclosure, and thereby testing, treatment and the use of other preventative measures. Even though changing these outdated, ineffective and discriminatory laws is simply common-sense progress, this is a huge move in the right direction. Its passage shows that the years of advocating around this issue are paying off. Our legislators and Nevada citizenry are beginning to understand that the old laws were born out of an era when evidence-based knowledge about HIV risk, transmission and treatment were exceedingly limited. Thank you to the Nevada Legislature, especially Senator Dallas Harris, who authored SB275, and for keeping Nevada at the forefront of LGBTQ+ and civil rights reform.”

Senator Harris, Co-Chair of the Advisory Task Force on HIV Exposure Modernization, said:

“The bipartisan passage of this bill reverses practices that were put in place during the 1980s AIDS epidemic and have proven ineffective and counterproductive from a public health perspective. The old laws also disproportionately affected already marginalized groups, including people of color and LGBTQ+ people. Passage of SB275 helps to remove the statutory stigma that was intentionally placed into our laws that’s done nothing but harm to those who contracted HIV.”

According to a recent report by the UCLA Williams Institute, which analyzed data from the state of Nevada, between 2011 and 2020, arrests for HIV crimes were double the amount from the previous decade and arrests for HIV crimes fell disproportionately on black Nevadans. Black people are 10 percent of Nevada’s population and 28 percent of people living with HIV in the state, but 40 percent of those who have been arrested for HIV crimes.

Connie Shearer, Co-Chair of the Nevada HIV Modernization Coalition said:

“While it’s true that the majority of arrests under HIV criminal laws are reduced or dismissed, the outdated laws continued to perpetuate misinformation and antiquated myths, fears and opinions about HIV and how it is spread. With the passage of SB275, the Nevada Legislature chose science over outdated and irrational fear.”

For more information, visit www.silverstateequality.org/hiv

Published on March 23, 2021 in The Nevada Independent

Democratic Senator seeks overhaul of HIV laws she says will help remove stigma

Sen.  (D-Las Vegas) has introduced a bill that would modernize the state’s laws on human immunodeficiency virus by treating HIV in the same way as other communicable diseases.

The bill aims to reverse practices established decades ago during the height of the AIDS epidemic — when little was known about HIV and AIDS — that have disproportionately affected already marginalized groups, including people of color and LGBTQ+ people.

“The priority for me is equality,” Harris said. “The goal is to remove the statutory stigma that was intentionally placed into our laws all the way across the country that’s done nothing but harm to those who have contracted HIV.”

The bill, SB275, would repeal a Nevada statute that makes it a felony for someone who has tested positive for HIV to intentionally, knowingly or willfully engage in conduct that is intended or likely to transmit the disease. Repealing that statute would mean a person who has contracted HIV and who engaged in such behavior would instead be given a warning as their first offense and, after a second offense, would be guilty of a misdemeanor — a punishment that is in line with the treatment of other communicable diseases, such as chlamydia and SARS.

“These laws were written back in the ‘80s and ‘90s,” said André Wade, chair of the state’s Advisory Task Force on HIV Exposure Modernization. “Whenever there’s a specific call out of HIV, instead of including it as a communicable disease … then that, in and of itself, is stigmatizing.”

Wade, who also serves as the state director for Silver State Equality, an LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, explained that modernizing the laws is important because HIV is treated as though it is different and worse than other communicable diseases, even though it is not.

In 2019, the state’s HIV/AIDS Surveillance Program found that 11,769 Nevadans were living with HIV, with 27.6 percent of that group identified as Black, even though Black Nevadans comprise just 10.3 percent of the state’s population.

Laws criminalizing HIV arose at a time when little was known about the virus and treatment of the disease. However, as medicine has advanced, prevention medications have been created that eliminate the risk of HIV transmission. And public health experts have also learned that the virus does not spread through saliva, tears or sweat, or by hugging, shaking hands, sharing toilets or sharing dishes.

Samuel Garrett-Pate, communications director for Silver State Equality, said that outdated HIV laws have actually made it more difficult to contain the spread of the virus because of the stigma associated with the laws.

“We recognize that not only have these laws not worked to protect people from the transmission of HIV,” Garrett-Pate said. “They’ve actually been counterproductive … They actually discourage testing. They discourage people from learning their status. They discourage people from disclosing their status.”

Harris said she wants to encourage more testing, and an important step in doing that is removing discriminatory language in the law. Her HIV modernization bill includes provisions to update the language around HIV and other communicable diseases and to ensure that people living with HIV are referred to more respectfully in state laws.

Harris also noted the importance of ensuring equality for all through the bill, including for sex workers and inmates. The bill would repeal a Nevada statute that allows for the segregation of inmates who have tested positive for HIV — which would codify into law a directive from a February settlement between the Department of Justice and the Nevada Department of Corrections that banned the segregation practice.

The bill is also aimed at addressing the spread of communicable diseases as a public health matter, rather than through criminalization.

Existing law allows health authorities to take certain action to investigate and control the spread of communicable disease, including ordering a person to be examined for the presence of a disease and ordering the isolation, quarantine or treatment of a person.

The bill would require any such order to include the reasons why the ordered actions are necessary to prevent, suppress or control the communicable disease.

The initiatives come largely from the work of Silver State Equality and the HIV task force.

The task force — established in the 2019 session through SB284, a bill that was sponsored by now termed-out Sen.  (D-Las Vegas) — was created to address stigma surrounding HIV and to update HIV laws in Nevada based on how the public health understanding of the virus has advanced over previous decades.

Since its commencement, the task force has worked to create a report ahead of the current session that includes many of the recommendations realized in Harris’s bill. And with a provision in the bill that would re-establish the task force for the 2021-22 legislative interim, the task force could continue its work on understanding how Nevada’s HIV laws affect those who have contracted the virus.

Wade and Harris both acknowledged that there is more work to be done beyond what made it into the bill, but Wade said he thinks that the bill does most of what he and the task force sought to accomplish.

Harris said she has another bill, SB211, that would require primary care providers to offer STD and HIV testing to anyone aged 15 and older and that would work in tandem with SB275.

“Testing, testing, testing, right. If we learned anything from coronavirus, it’s, ‘go get tested,’” Harris said. “So that’s another piece. I’m hoping that’s going to work together with this modernization bill to break down some of those barriers.”

The HIV modernization bill is scheduled for its first hearing during a meeting of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday. Harris said she expects a positive response.

“I expect it to be well received,” Harris said. “The task force has done a lot of the groundwork on this… This is a result of months and months and multiple meetings with law enforcement, with [district attorney] aides, with communities of those who are living with HIV… with our health departments, with all of the stakeholders at the table.”

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US: LGBTQ groups share mixed feelings on bills that passed or failed through state legislatures in 2021

‘You gasp in relief, you don’t celebrate’

LGBTQ groups share mixed feelings on bills that passed, failed during the session

It’s easy to measure Nevada’s success in passing legislation that enhances LGBTQ protections when compared to the wave of anti-LGBTQ bills, specifically anti-trans proposals, that have been sweeping through state legislatures in 2021.

At least 17 bills were passed around the country that targeted trans youth seeking gender-affirming care and allowed for religious exemptions to providing services to the LGBTQ community — the Human Rights Campaign called 2021 the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation. 

Meanwhile, Nevada moved in the opposite direction and passed legislation modernizing HIV criminalization laws, enhancing data collection around hate crimes and promoting a more inclusive curriculum.

LGBTQ groups following the legislative process have mixed feelings about the measures lawmakers took. 

“So many of the bills are just to be able to gain basic dignity and we’re coming from such a deficit,” said Brooke Maylath, the president of Transgender Allies Group. 

Maylath called those victories, including HIV modernizing, “bittersweet,” adding that “you gasp in relief, you don’t celebrate.”

But the bills that failed, she added, hurt more. 

While general LGBTQ-inclusive legislation was able to advance, two bills specifically enhancing protections for the gender-diverse community, one to ensure insurance companies cover gender-affirming procedures and another to require the Nevada Department of Corrections to develop policies around protecting and housing transgender inmates, died. 

“I’m stunned and bitter. I feel locked out in the cold,” Maylath said. “Part of it is Covid. Not being in the building has hurt everybody equally. For public health reasons, it was very necessary. But there are certain elected officials who are very good about listening to their own interested lobbyists and pay no never mind to those they don’t have a vested interest in.”

Andre Wade, the Nevada state director for Silver State Equality, said while he was proud overall of the work done during the session, “there is still some disappointment” around the bills that failed. 

“There are huge implications to trans health and well-being and the treatment of trans people in the criminal justice system,” he said, adding the fact that the bills strengthening those protections “stalled is disheartening and upsetting.”

Nevada, he added, still made progress, which he attributes in part to having at least four openly LGBTQ lawmakers. 

“Having 20 LGBTQ specific or inclusive bills from the jump is amazing in and of itself,” he said. “The fact that 50 percent have passed is amazing. The thing that is important is we moved from core nondiscrimination protection bills around public accommodations and employment and were able to get into the nooks and crannies of things affecting people’s everyday lives.”

The biggest difference between Nevada and other states, he added, was that the state didn’t “have to play defense like some other states when it comes to gross anti-trans bills.” 

According to the Human Rights Campaign, there were more than 250 bills introduced in state legislatures in 2021 that target the LGBTQ community. 

The biggest clump of legislation were anti-trans, including: 

  • 35 bills that would ban transgender youth from accessing gender-affirming medical care;
  • 15 bills that would prohibit transgender people from accessing restrooms or lockerrooms consistent with their gender idenity;
  • 69 bills that would prevent transgender youth from participating in sports.

While Nevada didn’t embark on a similar path, groups agreed there is room for improvement.

“Are we better if we’re not looking after the most marginalized Americans?” Maylath asked. “Are we better if we’re denying human dignity to the people we’ve ostracized?”

‘Failed in some areas’

The death of Senate Bill 139, which would have required health insurance policies to cover “the treatment of conditions relating to gender dysphoria, gender incongruence and other disorders of sexual development,” hurts Maylath the most.

Trans and gender-nonconforming people share stories during the bill’s hearing about having to pay out of pocket for affirming procedures a health care provider deemed medically necessary. Procedures included “top surgery,” which includes breast reduction or removal, and voice therapy.

“I consider this common sense legislation,” said Sy Bernabei, the executive director for Gender Justice Nevada. “It makes sense that if there is a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and a doctor says, ‘here are these gender-affirming procedures,’ and (the diagnosis) is rooted in medical care and theory, then why wouldn’t we make it easier for insurance to cover these policies?” 

Both Bernabei and Maylath said the legislation could have saved lives. 

During testimony for the bill, Bernabei added when transgender and gender-nonconforming people don’t have procedures covered by insurance they are more likely to experience depression or be at-risk of suicide. 

Several fiscal notes were attached to the bill essentially dooming the bill’s fate. 

Clark County said if the bill expanded coverage for conditions related to gender dysphoria “assuming two reassignment surgeries per year, or one per 10,000 members,” it would cost $1.5 million over two years.

“In a $9 billion budget you can’t find money for gender-affirming procedures, which are actually life-saving procedures,?” Maylath asked, adding that trans people are already paying into insurance plans. 

“We pay the same benefits as everybody else yet the lifesaving procedures for us are denied administratively.”

After passing out of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor April 2, SB 139 was sent to the Senate Finance committee, chaired by state Sen. Chris Brooks, where it died without another hearing.

Maylath, who presented the legislation alongside bill sponsor state Sen. Melanie Scheible, said she reached out to Brooks multiple times but never received a response.

Senate Bill 258, which would have required NDOC to adopt regulations around housing, heath care and security for transgender inmates, also died. 

The hearing included letters from inmates and testimony for attorneys representing transgender inmates who detailed horrific allegations of abuse and sexual assault

“We’ve got this draconian system that preys on people of color and puts them into subhuman conditions and then denies basic human rights and access to health care and appropriate housing to keep them safe from rape,” Maylath said. 

The department attached a $1.3 million fiscal note to the bill. Maylath said the fiscal note was “inflated and unnecessary”  and called it “an administrative trick” to keep the bill from going forward.

NDOC also attached a nearly $4 million fiscal note to another one of Scheible’s bills, Senate Bill 22, that caps how much prison officials can deduct from inmate’s accounts. 

Brooks scheduled a hearing for the legislation in the Senate Finance Committee, lawmakers challenged the accuracy of the fiscal impact, and the Legislative Counsel Bureau concluded they couldn’t verify the accuracy of the amount. The bill then passed both houses unanimously. 

It’s unclear why the same level of scrutiny given to the fiscal note on SB 22 wasn’t given to SB 258.

Maylath said the bill “was about getting the Department of Corrections to properly write transgender and gender variant prisoner policy” so guidelines were consistent across prisons and clear for all corrections officers to understand.

“So for the 30, 40 prisoners they have who are gender variant, (NDOC) wants to continue to not have to change their ways so they can be able to do what they’ve always done, which is applying extrajudicial punishment for people who are different,” she said.

Bernabei wasn’t surprised that those bills didn’t pass, but was still disappointed. 

“Even though we have a progressive body right now and some really great lawmakers, we still couldn’t get through what we should have,” they added. “At least we didn’t pass anti-LGBTQ bills, but I feel like we still kind of failed in some areas.”

More voices, more political power

Wade said one of the more significant wins for the LGBTQ community was Senate Bill 275, which modernizes the state’s HIV laws. 

“It’s part of a broader movement across the nation with at least nine other states mulling similar legislation,” Wade said.

The legislation repeals a provision in Nevada law that makes it a category B felony for a person who tested positive for HIV from “knowingly or willfully engaging in a manner intended to transmit the disease.” 

Laws criminalizing HIV transmission that were put in place during the height of the HIV/AIDS pandemic targeted gay and trans people and don’t reflect the innovations in science and medicine around the disease. Former state Sen. David Parks had worked for years to change those laws.

Again, Maylath said the passage was bittersweet.

“How do you criminalize having a virus?” Maylath said. “It was bad they criminalized it in the first place… Is it room for celebration? I don’t know. How do you celebrate being able to get what’s owed to you on a human dignity basis after having it taken away from you for the past 30 years?”

Wade said it’s hard to undersell the importance of Assembly Bill 261, which creates inclusive curriculum standards that takes into consideration the perspectives and contributions of marginalized communities such as the LGBTQ community, Black, indigenous people of color and immigrants. 

“It will allow racial and ethnic minorities and sexual and gender minorities to see themselves in history books and civic books and for our cisgender, heterosexual peers to see us as well,” Wade said.

Bernabei noted the important step of passing AB 261 especially in contrast to other states that banned “critical race theory” from being taught in schools. While the bill is a good step, they added the implementation process is something to watch. 

“What is it going to look like when it’s implemented,” they said. “When we talk about LGBTQ history, are we only going to be celebrating Harvey Milk (the first openly gay elected official in California)? Are we celebrating trans folks who have contributed or people of color in our community? I’m glad it passed, but I’m interested to see what happens with it.” 

Other important bills, Wade said, include Senate Bill 237, which designates LGBTQ businesses as minority-owned businesses, and Senate Bill 148, which enhances how Nevada law enforcement tracks and reports hate crimes.  

“Our hate crime reporting data, in general, isn’t that great,” Wade said. “But this will allow us to have better data on sexual orientation and gender identity so we can know what the rise of hate crimes look like throughout the state and get reports so we can know how to address the situation.”

Assembly Bill 115 would allow more than two individuals to be legal parents and allows for all consenting parents to share in the duties and responsibilities of raising the child.

“This isn’t just an LGBTQ bill, this is also a step-parent bill. This is a bill for families who need legal protections for modern families,” Wade said.

While there wasn’t a concerted effort to advance anti-LGBTQ legislation in 2021, Bernabei wouldn’t be surprised if the progress made during the session prompted backlash in 2023, especially if Democrats lose seats. 

But LGBTQ groups will be ready. 

“The good thing about where we’re at is there are more people coming out not because there are more gay and trans people but because it’s safer and more affirming,” Bernabei said. “With more voices, we have more political power.”

[Update]US: Illinois Senate approves bill to decriminalise HIV transmission

Bill decriminalizing HIV transmission passes Senate

The Illinois Senate on Tuesday passed a measure decriminalizing the transmission of HIV.

The measure has already passed the House and will need only a signature from Gov. J.B. Pritzker to become law.

House Bill 1063 would eliminate existing criminal statutes that penalize HIV transmission as a Class 2 felony. If Pritzker signs the bill, Illinois would join 11 other states that do not have laws criminalizing the transmission of HIV, including Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

HB 1063 also would repeal existing laws allowing law enforcement or state’s attorneys to access a person’s HIV status. Under current criminal law, a person who transmits HIV to another person can be charged with “criminal transmission of HIV.”

Current law prohibits the forced disclosure of a person’s HIV status but provides exceptions for law enforcement officials or state’s attorneys to subpoena or petition for the HIV status of criminal defendants.

The Illinois HIV Action Alliance, which lobbied for the bill, praised its passage.

“The truth is HIV criminalization never improved safety or public health in Illinois — in instead, it has only caused suffering to people living with HIV, their families, and their communities. It has promoted stigma and discrimination, and it has discouraged testing, treatment, and disclosure for decades,” the group wrote in a written statement Tuesday.

Sen. Robert Peters, a Chicago Democrat, sponsored the bill in the Senate, and Rep. Carol Ammons, an Urbana Democrat, was lead sponsor in the House.

It passed out of the Senate by a vote of 37-17 on Tuesday, and passed from the House last month by a vote of 99-9.

Published May 5, 2021 in The Daily Herad

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.

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.

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.

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».