[Update]US: Washington legislators approve bill reducing the severity of charges in cases of alleged HIV transmission

Washington Legislature Ease Penalties for HIV Exposure

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Legislature on Tuesday approved a bill that reduces the crime of intentionally exposing a sexual partner to HIV from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Supporters of the change to the rarely used law say the current penalties don’t have an effect on reducing transmissions or improving public health. Opponents argued the move diminishes the significance of the impact on a person who is unknowingly infected.

The House passed the bill on a 57-40 vote last month, and the Senate passed it on a 26-23 vote Tuesday. The measure now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee, who supports the bill and is expected to sign it.

Democratic Sen. Annette Cleveland said that the bill modernizes criminal statutes and recognizes “advancements in medical science that have rendered HIV a treatable disease.”

“I realize that this disease evokes fear and emotion even today,” she said. “I understand that the laws that are currently on the books were originally meant to protect people from HIV, yet three decades later we know that instead these laws have only increased the stigma and led to abuse.”

The legislation, which was requested by the state Department of Health, also calls for more intervention from local and state health officers, allowing them to recommend options ranging from testing to counseling. They could even mandate treatment for an individual determined to be placing others at risk.

The Senate rejected a Republican floor amendment that would have maintained the current criminal felony charge, as well as two others that would have imposed a felony charge for people on their second or third conviction.

Republican Sen. Maureen Walsh said there were several elements of the bill that she agreed with, but she couldn’t support it with the reduction of penalties for intentional transmission.

“There is nothing but malice behind a person who would go out and knowingly infect another individual with, frankly, a life sentence,” she said. “And I realize a lot of people are living longer, but they’re spending a lot of money on drugs.”

Under current law, a person can be charged with a felony for exposing or transmitting HIV to another person and could face as much as life in prison and a $50,000 fine, depending on the circumstances. Under the bill approved by the Legislature, that crime becomes a misdemeanor that could carry a penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine if a person is infected. In cases where someone lies about their HIV status, it becomes a gross misdemeanor, with penalties of up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. An amendment accepted in the House maintains the felony charge for someone who intentionally transmits HIV to a child or vulnerable adult, and requires them to register as a sex offender.

Between 1986 and 2019, there have been 33 criminal cases filed under the current HIV-related statutes, according to the Department of Health. Three of those cases resulted in a felony conviction.

The Department of Health says there are an estimated 14,744 people in the state living with HIV, with about 81 percent of them virally suppressed, meaning they are unable to transmit the virus.

The Center for HIV Law & Policy says Washington is among 29 states with HIV-specific laws. Once Inslee signs the measure into law, Washington will join seven other states that have reformed or repealed one or more parts of criminal laws specific to HIV.

The proposal is not as expansive as changes made by California, which in 2017 passed a law that reduced penalties for knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV from a felony to a misdemeanor. The California law also reduced charges for a person with HIV who knowingly donates blood, tissue, semen or breast milk from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Other states that have introduced bills this year on reforming HIV-specific laws include Ohio, Florida and Virginia.

WA Democrats hope to reduce criminal penalties for intentionally spreading HIV

Published in My North West on 15/02/2020

It’s been a law on the books for decades – anyone busted for intentionally infecting someone with HIV faces felony first degree assault.

Under a controversial bill passed by the House this week, that crime would be lowered to a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances.

Republicans unanimously rejected the measure in the House, contending, among other things, that lowering the punishment puts the public at risk.

But supporters argue the state’s current law, enacted in the ’80s and only updated with a few minor changes in the ’90s, is outdated and increases stigma surrounding HIV, which in turn damages public health efforts.

The bill, HB 1551, originally sponsored by current Speaker of the House Democrat Laurie Jinkins and now sponsored by Democratic Rep. Eileen Cody, is a wide ranging bill that makes multiple changes to state law regarding mandatory testing for HIV, what the public health departments can and cannot do in investigating, and allowing minors to get treatment for HIV without parental consent, but the provision creating the bulk of the controversy is the reduction of the crime relating to intentionally infecting a person with HIV.

Supporters of the bill say the criminalization of HIV has only led to increased stigma that damages ongoing public efforts, according to the 2016 report from the End AIDS steering committee.

“Criminalizing us with a felony A for having a disease state … that’s not a banner I can get behind anymore, and frankly that doesn’t make people want to rush out and get engaged with public health,” Scott Bertani, an HIV positive man and Lifelong AIDS Alliance member, told lawmakers at a hearing on the bill last session.

“HIV is not the same disease as it was over 30 years ago,” said Lauren Fanning with the Washington HIV Justice Alliance. “The law contributes to stigma so many people with HIV feel by how others treat them like they are dirty and they have a great deal of difficulty overcoming that in their lives.”

Fanning also testified at last year’s committee hearing.

“The law creates fear of being tested, fear of accessing healthcare, and undermines the trust and prevention care and treatment systems impacting our marginalized communities the most,” Fanning added.

Nearly a year later, on the House floor this week, Democratic Rep. Nicole Macri said changing the law was long overdue and would decrease stigma while strengthening public health by finally treating HIV like the disease it is.

“A treatable, a chronic illness, and not a moral failing or criminal justice issue,” Macri said.

But Republicans argued the changed law would put the public at risk by making the crime and penalty for intentionally infecting a person with HIV the same as it is for stealing a candy bar.

Rep. Michelle Caldier said it would have other unintentional consequences by removing a tool for prosecutors who use the HIV felony crime as a method to convict rapists.

“Those rape victims deserve a voice,” Caldier said. “And what’s going to happen to all those rape victims where they were able to prosecute this? And now we’re going to reduce the sentence. We’re going to let those rapists go free. I’m not OK with that! And it breaks my heart that so many people on this floor are.”

Macri painted this bill as a compromise, telling fellow lawmakers that many of her constituents want to completely decriminalize HIV.

Australia: Prisoners who assault prison officers would be mandatorily tested for infectious diseases under proposed law in Western Australia

Proposed mandatory infectious diseases testing of prisoners who assault officers
  • ​New laws to make compulsory the testing of a prisoner accused of assault for an infectious disease
  • Current laws mean an officer has to wait three months to know if they are possibly infected
  • Prisoner’s blood-virus infection status would be made available to an affected officer

Prisoners who assault prison officers would be mandatorily tested for infectious diseases under proposed new laws now before Western Australia’s Parliament.

Currently prison officers, who have been assaulted by a prisoner, have to wait three months before they themselves are tested to see if they have contracted an infectious disease such as Hepatitis C or HIV.

The new laws mean a prisoner would be tested as soon as possible and face an increased penalty of $3,000, up from $300, or an extra six months on top of their existing sentence for refusing to comply.

The tough new penalty and mandatory testing is to try to alleviate the burden on an officer who now has to wait three months before they know if they have possibly been infected.

The new laws also cover if an officer has come in contact with a prisoner’s bodily fluids.

The amendment Bill will also authorise the disclosure of the prisoner’s infection status to the affected prison officer. Where the prisoner’s infectious disease status is known, the information will be able to be shared with the affected prison officer almost immediately.

The provisions contained in the legislation mirror the protection offered to WA police officers.

Comments attributed to Corrective Services Minister Francis Logan:

“These tough new amendments fulfil a McGowan Labor Government commitment to support prison officers in the same way as police officers.

“Prison officers are required, as part of their duties, to restrain people and are therefore exposed to bodily fluids through which diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV can be transmitted.

“It can be a long and anxious wait for an officer not knowing whether the prisoner is carrying an infectious disease.

“Under these tough new laws, the burden will be lifted on a prison officer and a prisoner will be mandatorily tested and failure to comply may result in a $3,000 fine and six months on top of their existing sentence.

“Our prisoner officers work in highly challenging and complex environments and this proposed new law takes the burden off them and offers some sense of surety.”

Zimbabwe: Women parliamentarians call for the decriminalisation of wilful HIV transmission

‘Decriminalise wilful transmission of HIV’

FEMALE parliamentarians have called for the decriminalisation of wilful transmission of HIV, saying women were the most affected by the law.

The issue came out on Thursday last week in the National Assembly during debate on the Second Reading Stage of the Marriages Bill, which among several other issues seeks to now decriminalise wilful transmission of HIV.

Harare West MP Joana Mamombe (MDC Alliance) said due to their biological make-up of giving birth, women used to be the most affected by criminalisation of wilful transmission of HIV.  

She said usually, couples learn about their HIV status when a pregnant woman is tested to prevent mother-to-child transmission.

“We welcome that this Bill proposes to decriminalise wilful transmission of HIV because it affects women the most, especially the young women,” Mamombe said. 

“Decriminalising wilful transmission of HIV will reduce the number of women jailed at Chikurubi Female Prison for crimes such as that they wilfully transmitted the disease to their partners due to their biological make-up of giving birth given that the virus is discovered mostly when the pregnant women are tested,” she said.

Josephine Shava (Zanu-PF MP – proportional representation) added:  “If a woman is HIV positive and informs her husband, the husband rushes to the police and makes sure that the wife is arrested.  I think this law must protect women.  When the case is presented in court, the women cannot defend themselves as they have no legal representation.”

Proportional representation legislator Perseviarance Zhou (Zanu-PF) opened up on how criminalisation of HIV affected her brother, Kaiboni Mlambo, who ended up dying in prison.

“Yes, he was HIV positive, but he agreed with his girlfriend that they would use protection. The woman was found to be HIV positive, but this Act was used against my brother and he got arrested. Instead of dying of HIV and Aids, he died from stress in prison,” she said.

MPs said criminalising of transmission of HIV would contribute to its spread as partners would be scared to disclose their statuses to each other in fear of getting arrested.

“It was also realised that Zimbabwe criminalises sexual activity when one is HIV positive, yet our Constitution says that we should not discriminate against people with HIV and Aids,” Zhou said.

US: Georgia Republican lawmaker co-sponsors bill that would revise HIV criminalisation law in the State

Republican lawmaker pushes to decriminalize HIV in Georgia

An influential Republican lawmaker in the Georgia House wants to modernize the state’s HIV laws, which activists have criticized as outdated and said stigmatize people living with HIV.

Current Georgia law makes it a crime for people living with HIV to have sex or donate blood without disclosing their status. It’s a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. State law also criminalizes spitting at or using bodily fluids on a law enforcement officer by a person living with HIV, an offense that can carry up to 20 years in prison. 

But Rep. Sharon Cooper (photo), a Republican from Marietta, wants to change that. The chair of the Health & Human Services Committee in the Georgia House is a co-sponsor of a bill that would revise state law so it’s only illegal to intentionally transmit HIV during sex. The legislation would also downgrade the punishment from a felony to a misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in prison. The revisions to the law would also decriminalize spitting at and using bodily fluids on a law enforcement officer by a person living with HIV.

“[Current Georgia HIV laws] make people so biased and afraid,” she told Project Q Atlanta. “And when you’re afraid of something and don’t understand it, it makes people act in very negative ways.”

“Misinformation is not only harmful to the person who has HIV, it’s harmful to the perceptions of everyone around and how they handle or treat the person. Having that correct information is extremely important,” she added.

Rep. Deborah Silcox, a Republican from Sandy Springs, introduced House Bill 719 on the final day of the 2019 legislative session. It was assigned to Cooper’s HHS committee.

Cooper said she will meet with Kathleen Toomey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, to discuss the bill on Feb. 19. Cathalene Teahan, a registered nurse and a board member for the Georgia AIDS Coalition, is also expected at the meeting.

“Is there a more comprehensive bill? Should we have more than one bill? Where are our holes in the system? This is a big issue and I think we have a chance to really look at it,” Cooper said.

Georgia is one of some three-dozen states that criminalize a lack of HIV disclosure, whether or not the specific act actually exposed the sex partner to HIV. Activists and lawmakers have tried for years to modernize state law by decriminalizing non-disclosure of the disease to sex partners.

It’s way past time to update Georgia’s HIV laws, according to Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality.

“As they are currently written, there is no basis in science,” he said. ”If Georgia is going to get serious about making changes to end the epidemic in the next decade, we have to start by ending policies like this that are so harmful and have gone unchallenged for far too long.”

Rep. Mark Newton, a Republican from Augusta, is a co-sponsor of the legislation with Silcox and Cooper as a sponsor of the bill. The Democratic sponsors include Reps. Michele Henson of Stone Mountain, Karla Drenner of Avondale Estates and Sam Park of Lawrenceville. Drenner and Park are two of the five openly LGBTQ members of the legislature.

Cooper sponsored a measure that created a study committee to examine the state’s HIV criminalization laws in 2017.

The committee published its findings in December 2017, and some of those recommendations became part of HB 719. The committee found that “criminal exposure laws had no effect on detectable HIV prevention” and that these laws should be eliminated unless there was a clear intent to transmit the virus, according to the report.

HIV exposure arrests in Georgia

An Augusta man was arrested in January after allegedly having sex with a relative without informing him he had HIV. He was later released on bond.

A Rome, Ga., man was charged in August with exposing police officers to HIV after allegedly spitting on them, which HIV activists said highlights why the state needs to fix its laws. He is being held without bond in the Floyd County Jail.

An Athens man was arrested in July after allegedly having sex with a woman without informing her he had HIV. He was charged with reckless conduct by a person with HIV. He remains in Athens-Clarke County Jail without bond six months later, according to the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office.

A gay Atlanta man was arrested for HIV exposure in South Carolina in 2015. He claimed he disclosed his status before having sex with the alleged victim. The charges were later dropped.

US: Slow progress for Nevada Advisory Task Force on HIV Exposure Modernization

Task force on HIV decriminalization off to slow start

By Michael Lyle

Six months after Gov. Steve Sisolak authorized the creation of an Advisory Task Force on HIV Exposure Modernization to examine Nevada’s antiquated laws, the committee hasn’t been filled. 

The law establishing the task force authorizes up to 15 appointments. The only three appointments made thus far were made in January. The task force has until Sept. 1 to present its finding to the Legislative Counsel Bureau along with any recommendations on potential legislation. 

“As is the case with any other board or commission, the Governor can only make appointments when the application process is complete,” said Ryan McInerney, a spokesman for the governor. “There are multiple steps in the application process, and applicants will only be reviewed when all of their paperwork is completed and submitted.” 

The governor’s office said it is working with the Department of Health and Human Services to encourage applicants to apply and has a goal of seven total members by mid-February. 

“We are not concerned about meeting the deadline and will be prepared to immediately start work with the task force when appointments are announced,” added Shannon Litz, a spokeswoman with Nevada’s Department of Health and Human Services. 

HIV criminalization laws developed in the late 1980s following the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. 

Despite three decades of advancements in medicine that have decreased mortality rates and lowered transmission rates, the laws overwhelmingly remain in place across the United States.

Various movements have worked to change those existing laws. 

California passed legislation in 2017 that reduces the penalty for those who expose others to HIV without their knowledge.  

In a previous interview, state. Sen. David Parks, who sponsored Senate Bill 284, said he had tried for three sessions to bring forth legislation to address HIV criminalization. 

The task force, once formed, is expected to review existing HIV exposure laws, research the impact of those laws, review corresponding court decisions and identify disparities of arrest based on indicators such as gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, race or sex. 

In its 2017 report HIV Criminalization in the United States, the Center for HIV Law and Policy identified several existing Nevada laws that criminalizes HIV: 

  • People living with HIV are prohibited from engaging in conduct known to transmit HIV, which is a Class B felony that can come with a two to 10 year prison sentence or up to a $10,000 fine.
  • People living with HIV can’t engage in sex work, which also comes with six months in prion and up to a $1,000 fine. 
  • Health authorities have “broad powers to prevent transmission of communicable and infectious diseases, including HIV”

As the report points out, “conduct ‘likely to transmit’ HIV is not defined.” 

Like most laws, Nevada’s statutes also don’t reflect the science advancements behind transmission. 

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with other health organizations and scientific studies found that those on medications who achieve an undetectable viral load — when the copies of HIV per milliliter of blood are so low, it can’t be detected on a test — have no risk of transmitting the virus.

While speaking in support of SB 284, the Nevada Attorneys for Criminal Justice also noted other Nevada laws targeting people living with HIV. 

“NACJ would particularly like to highlight one such law, NRS 212.189, which imposes a life sentence on a person with HIV in lawful custody who exposes another person to their bodily fluids,” the group wrote.  “This is dramatically overbroad – a person with HIV who spits on a police officer as they are being arrested faces a life sentence, because HIV is sometimes present in saliva even though there is no actual risk of transmission.”

There hasn’t been any indication when the task force will begin meeting. 

The three appointments in January include Stephan Page, Steve Amend and Ruben Murillo. 

Russia: New bill proposed on the deportation of migrants with “dangerous” diseases, including HIV

The State Duma may pass a law on the expulsion of migrants with dangerous diseases

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has prepared a bill on the expulsion of migrants with dangerous diseases. Including with coronavirus. The decision on deportation will also be made by the Ministry of Health, the FSB and the bodies of sanitary and epidemiological surveillance. They must coordinate their actions with the Ministry of Justice. At the same time, it is necessary to provide sick people with treatment, accompaniment and transportation.
In addition to coronavirus, the list also includes plague, cholera, tuberculosis, HIV and anthrax. The document, according to the channel “Russia 24”, will be presented to the Cabinet in March, the State Duma will consider it in May.

Госдума может принять закон о выдворении мигрантов с опасными болезнями

МВД подготовило законопроект о порядке выдворения мигрантов с опасными заболеваниями. В том числе, с коронавирусом. Решение о депортации будут также принимать Минздрав, ФСБ и органы санитарно-эпидемиологического надзора. Свои действия они должны согласовывать с Минюстом. Заболевшим, при этом, необходимо предоставить лечение, сопровождение и перевозку.

Кроме коронавируса, в списке также чума, холера, туберкулез, ВИЧ и сибирская язва. Документ, по данным телеканала “Россия 24”, представят кабмину в марте, Госдума рассмотрит его в мае.

Tajikistan: HIV testing becomes mandatory for boys before their circumcision

Pre-Circumcision HIV Test for Boys Required in Tajikistan

Google translation, for article in Russian please scroll down

Avesta.Tj | 01/08/2020 | Pre-circumcision HIV testing for boys in Tajikistan has become mandatory. The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of the country ordered the country’s health facilities to test boys for HIV before circumcision.

As Avesta was informed by a senior specialist of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Tajikistan on children’s diseases Sherali Rakhmatulloev, this measure is timely and is aimed at preventing the spread of HIV infection.

According to Sherali Rakhmutullov, until 2018, 70-80% of male circumcisions in Tajikistan were performed by traditional healers, until a ban on their activities was introduced.

After the ban on the activities of craftsmen circumcising boys at home, rooms were created in medical institutions of the country where circumcision is performed by professional doctors.

“Craftsmen used the same tool for circumcision, which sometimes led to the transmission of infection from one child to another. Now, specialists who use disposable and sterilized instruments are doing this, which minimizes the risks of infection, ”S. Rakhmatulloev noted.

The Ministry of Health believes that mandatory testing of boys for HIV before circumcision is aimed at preventing and preventing the spread of this infection.

“If a child has HIV infection, then it is likely that the child’s parents are the carrier of the infection, or one of them. This allows you to minimize the risk of spreading the infection, ”the Ministry of Health said.

According to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of the country, in 2019, over 81.2 thousand male circumcisions were carried out in the country’s medical institutions.

As the press center of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of the Republic of Tatarstan recalls, at the end of October 2018, an order was issued by the Minister of Health on the regulation of circumcision operations in the country.

This measure was adopted in accordance with the amendments introduced in August 2017 to the law “On the streamlining of folk traditions, triumph and ceremonies”.

As part of the implementation of this law and the head of the Ministry of Health, 693 special facilities for circumcision surgery were created in medical institutions across the country.

In total, in 2019, 81 thousand 231 male circumcision surgeries were carried out in the country’s medical institutions.

Тест на ВИЧ для мальчиков перед обрезанием в Таджикистане стал обязательным

8 января 2020, 10:18

Avesta.Tj | 08.01.2020 | Проверка на ВИЧ перед обрезанием для мальчиков в Таджикистане стала обязательным. Министерство здравоохранение и социальной защиты населения страны обязало медучреждения страны тестировать мальчиков на ВИЧ перед обрезанием.

Как сообщил «Авеста» старший специалист Минздрава РТ по детским заболеваниям Шерали Рахматуллоев, данная мера является своевременной и направлена на профилактику распространения ВИЧ-инфекции.

По словам Шерали Рахмутулловева, до 2018 года 70-80% обрезаний мальчиков в Таджикистане проводили народные целители, пока не был введен запрет на их деятельность.

После введения запрета на деятельность народных умельцев, обрезывающих мальчиков на дому, в медицинских учреждениях страны были созданы кабинеты, где обрезание проводят профессиональные врачи.

«Народные умельцы использовали при обрезании один и тот же инструмент, что иногда приводило к передаче инфекции от одного ребенка другому. Теперь этим занимаются специалисты, которые используют одноразовые и стерилизованные инструменты, что сводит к минимуму риски заражения», – отметил Ш.Рахматуллоев.

В министерстве здравоохранения считают, что обязательное тестирование мальчиков на ВИЧ перед обрезанием направлено на предотвращение и профилактику распространения данной инфекции.

«Если у ребенка выявлена ВИЧ-инфекция, значит, есть вероятность, что носителем инфекции являются родители ребенка, или один из них. Это позволяет минимизировать риск распространения инфекции», – считают в Минздраве.

По данным министерства здравоохранения и социальной защиты населения страны, в 2019 году в медицинских учреждениях страны проведено свыше 81,2 тыс. обрезаний мальчиков.

Как напоминает пресс-центр министерства здравоохранения и социальной защиты населения РТ, в конце октябре 2018 года был издан приказ министра здравоохранения о регулировании операций по обрезанию в стране.

Данная мера была принята согласно поправкам, внесенным в августе 2017 года в закон «Об упорядочении народных традиций, торжестве и обрядов».

В рамках реализации указанного закона и главы Минздрава в медицинских учреждениях по всей стране были созданы 693 специальных помещений для проведения операции по обрезанию.

Всего, в 2019 году в медицинских учреждениях страны проведено 81 тыс. 231 операция по обрезанию мальчиков.

US: Bipartisan group of Missouri lawmakers files legislation aimed at modernising HIV laws

Backers of modernizing Missouri’s HIV law say it’s matter of life and death

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Missourinet)– Legislation aimed at modernizing the state’s current HIV laws has been filed by a bipartisan group of Missouri lawmakers, who say the current laws are based on information that is no longer scientifically accurate.

State Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Scott City, hopes legislative leaders help push House Bill 1691 through quickly.

“Let’s work on these things (HIV and her prescription drug monitoring program legislation) and get them done to actually truly affect people’s daily lives at home,” Rehder says.

Supporters of the Rehder legislation want to see the laws change, so there is no longer an incentive to not get tested for HIV. They say current law treats HIV as a crime.

State Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-Olivette, joined Rehder at a December press conference at the Statehouse in Jefferson City. McCreery has filed her own version of the bill, which is similar to the Rehder bill. Representative McCreery tells Missourinet that modernizing the laws is critical.

“It’s a matter of life and death and it’s one of those issues that affects both rural and urban, suburban Missouri,” says McCreery. “And that’s why we’re working together.”

The Rehder and McCreery bills would both eliminate HIV-specific language in state law.

A coalition of groups ranging from Empower Missouri to the Missouri HIV Justice Coalition to the AIDS Project of the Ozarks is supporting the legislation. Spectrum Healthcare Executive Director Cale Mitchell tells Capitol reporters the state’s current laws are medically inaccurate.

“Diagnosis of a chronic illness should not be punitive and that’s what we have seen historically with the HIV laws that are in place,” Mitchell says.

Missouri’s current law has felony-level penalties if an HIV-positive person cannot prove that they disclosed their HIV status before engaging in sexual activity.

As for Rehder, she notes President Donald Trump (R) has aimed to cut HIV cases by 90 percent within ten years.

Empower Missouri says of the top 220 counties in the United States that are at risk of rapid dissemination of HIV infection among those who inject drugs, 13 counties are in Missouri.

All 13 of those Missouri counties are south of Interstate 70. They are Bates, Cedar, Crawford, Hickory, Iron, Madison, Ozark, Reynolds, Ripley, St. Francois, Washington, Wayne and Wright.

Missouri’s 2020 session begins Wednesday at noon in Jefferson City.

Copyright © 2020 · Missourinet

Dominican Republic: National Council for HIV asks for a review of HIV laws & drug laws, including HIV criminalisation provisions

Conavihsida asks to modify the HIV-AIDS law in the country

Source: Diario Libre, December 12, 2019 – Google translation, scroll down for article in Spanish

Conavihsida asks to modify the HIV-AIDS law in the country

In the country there are 12,000 people who have VHI and do not know it

The director of the National Council for HIV (Conavihsida), Víctor Terrero, asked the authorities to review and adapt laws and policies that affect drug users in HIV prevention and care programs.

It proposed the modification of Laws as 135-11 in its articles 50.78 and 79, as well as the Drug Law 50-88. He argued that sometimes a mother is sentenced to eight and ten years in prison for occupying a small portion of prohibited drugs and forgets that this woman has three and four small children to care for and maintain and that this type of case should be considered In the law.

“We are raising our voice in favor of injecting drug users living with HIV status and who are 22% more likely to get the virus,” he said.

He said that according to UNAIDS data these users often share needles, syringes and other supplies for injection, with which they contract the disease. He said that type of restrictive policy has failed elsewhere. He called to change the restrictive policy that is currently applied by a water utility so that drug use is not criminalized and is seen as a public health problem.

Third, the policies should focus on working with the person to avoid consumption, but also the spread of HIV through the use of syringes and other instruments. He recalled that there are about 12,000 people in the country who have HIV and do not know it.

By participating in the conference on “Drug, HIV and Human Rights Policies,” Terrero said that the most vulnerable population to contract HIV are the LGBTI population, Haitian migrants, low-school children in the bateyes who are the ones They provide the most new cases.

The director of Conavihsida reported that more than 79,750 people live with HIV in the country, of which they work with almost 69,000 for a missing 10,000. Retrovirals are supplied to all those identified, for which the State invested 17 million dollars this year.

On his side, Mauricio Ramírez Villegas, coordinator of the United Nations System in the Dominican Republic also advocated comprehensive policies on the issue of drugs and HIV.

He said that public policies must be more humanized to respond effectively to the fight against drugs and said there is scientific evidence from the United Nations, specialized agencies that demonstrate that a more humanized public policy is more effective than restrictive and criminal They deepen drug problems.

The items in dispute

Article 50.- Mandatory evidence . The tests for the detection of HIV or its antibodies are mandatory when:

1) It is required for the purpose of evidence in a criminal proceeding, upon order of the competent judicial authority; However, the accused refuses to carry out the test for detection

of HIV or its antibodies.

2) It involves donating blood, blood products, breast milk, semen, organs and tissues.

3) It is a pregnant woman, as part of the examinations prescribed by the attending physician, in order to ensure the best interest of the unborn child.

Article 78.- Obligation to inform the sexual partner. Any person who, knowing his HIV seropositivity, does not communicate his serological condition to the person with whom he is going to

Having sex will be punishable by imprisonment for two (2) to five (5) years.

Article 79.- Transmission of HIV intentionally. Any person who, by any means, transmits HIV intentionally to another, will be punished with imprisonment for twenty (20) years.

Conavihsida pide modificar ley de VIH-SIDA en el país

  • En el país hay 12,000 personas que tienen VHI y no lo saben

El director del Consejo Nacional para el VIH(Conavihsida), Víctor Terrero, solicitó a las autoridades revisar y adaptar legislaciones y políticas que afectan a los usuarios de drogas en los programas de prevención y atención del VIH.

Planteó la modificación de Leyes como 135-11 en sus artículos 50,78 y 79, así como la Ley de Drogas 50-88. Sostuvo que en ocasiones se condena a una madre a ocho y diez años de prisión por ocuparle una pequeña porción de droga prohibida y se olvida de que esa mujer tiene tres y cuatro hijos pequeños que cuidar y mantener y que ese tipo de caso se debe contemplar en la ley.

“Estamos levantando nuestra voz en favor de los usuarios de drogas inyectables que viven con la condición de VIH y quienes tienen un 22% más de posibilidades de contraer el virus”, sostuvo.

Manifestó que de acuerdo con datos ONUSIDA esos usuarios muchas veces comparten agujas, jeringas y otros suministros para inyección, con los cuales contraen la enfermedad. Aseguró que ese tipo de política restrictiva ha fracasado en otros lugares. Llamó a cambiar la política restrictiva que se aplica actualmente por una sanitaria para que no se siga criminalizando el uso de drogas y se vea como un problema de salud pública.

Terrero que las políticas deben enfocarse en trabajar con la persona para evitar el consumo, pero además, el contagio de VIH a través de uso de jeringas y otros instrumentos. Recordó que en el país hay unas 12,000 personas que tienen VIH y no lo saben.

Al participar en la conferencia sobre “Políticas de Drogas, el VIH y los Derechos Humanos”, Terrero señaló que la población más vulnerable para contraer VIH son la población LGBTI, los migrantes haitianos, los niños de baja escolaridad en los bateyes que son los que aportan la mayor cantidad de los nuevos casos.

El director de Conavihsida informó que más de 79,750 personas viven con VIH en el país, de los cuales trabajan con casi 69,000 para un faltante de 10,000. A todos los identificados se les suministran los retrovirales, para lo cual el Estado invirtió este año 17 millones de dólares.

De su lado, Mauricio Ramírez Villegas, coordinador del Sistema de Naciones Unidas en República Dominicana también abogó por política integrales en el tema de las drogas y el VIH.

Dijo que las políticas públicas deben ser más humanizadas para responder con efectividad a la lucha contra las drogas y aseguró que hay evidencias científicas por parte de Naciones Unidas, organismos especializados que demuestran que una política pública más humanizada es más efectiva que las restrictiva y criminales que profundizan los problemas de las drogas.

Los artículos en disputa

Artículo 50.- Pruebas obligatorias. La realización de las pruebas para la detección del VIH o de sus anticuerpos, son obligatorias cuando:

1) Se requiera para fines de prueba en un proceso penal, previa orden de la autoridad judicial competente; no obstante el imputado se rehúse a la realización de la prueba para la detección del VIH o de sus anticuerpos.

2) Se trate de donación de sangre, hemoderivados, leche materna, semen, órganos y tejidos.

3) Se trate de una mujer embarazada, como parte de los exámenes prescritos por el médico tratante, con la finalidad de asegurar el interés superior de la criatura por nacer.

Artículo 78.- Obligación de informar a la pareja sexual. Toda persona que, conociendo su seropositividad al VIH, no comunique su condición serológica a la persona con la que vaya asostener relaciones sexuales, será castigada con la pena de reclusión de dos (2) a cinco (5) años.

Artículo 79.- Transmisión del VIH de manera intencional. Toda persona que, por cualquier medio, transmita el VIH de manera intencional a otra, será castigada con pena de reclusión de veinte (20) años.

US: Bipartisan group of Missouri Lawmakers working to change HIV Laws that date from the 1980s

Missouri Lawmakers Want To Bring HIV Laws To The 21st Century

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is working to change current Missouri law on HIV that they say hasn’t been updated since the 1980s. 

Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, said current laws now actually discourage people from being tested. She said if someone knowingly exposes their partner to HIV and they contract the disease, it’s a class A felony. This is the most serious of felony crimes which include murder, rape and forcible kidnapping. 

“If you don’t know your status, there’s no way in Missouri you can be charged with that class A felony,” Rehder said Wednesday in announcing the proposed legislative change. “Not knowing your status in Missouri, unfortunately, keeps people from having that concern, which, in turn, keeps people from getting tested.” 

In comparison, driving intoxicated and causing someone’s death is a class C felony. 

Rehder’s legislation would reduce knowingly exposing someone to HIV who then contracts it to a class C felony. Her bill also reduces the penalty of knowingly exposing someone to the disease who does not contract it from a class B felony to a class D felony. 

Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-St. Louis, filed separate legislation that completely eliminates felony charges and reduces all transmission offenses to misdemeanors. 

“That’s based on input that we received from experts around the country,” she said. “It puts it more in line with other kinds of disease transmission, as well.” 

Jeanette Mott Oxford, executive director with Empower Missouri, said it gets it out of the area of disclosure altogether. Both of these laws focus on intent. 

“Were you intending to transmit HIV? Because right now our law says condom use is no defense,” she said. “So you could be trying not to transmit HIV and still be charged with a crime in Missouri.”

There were roughly 13,000 people living with HIV in Missouri in 2018, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Missouri has also been categorized as one of seven states in the U.S. with a rural HIV epidemic. However, with adequate treatment, those who are HIV-positive can avoid getting AIDS. Medication can also suppress the virus and reduce the risk of transmitting it to another person. 

“HIV is no longer a death sentence if you’re being treated,” said Rehder. 

Rehder’s bill and McCreery’s bill have been pre-filed, but full language has not been made available yet. Sen. Shalonn “Kiki” Curls, D-Kansas City, plans to file similar legislation in the Senate next week. 

On another health issue, Rehder will again attempt to pass a statewide prescription drug monitoring program. 

Many states across the nation experienced a decrease in drug overdose deaths in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But Missouri saw a 12% increase

Data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services shows that one out of every 65 deaths in Missouri in 2017 was caused by opioid overdose. Also, Missouri is also the only state without a PDMP.

Rehder said she believes she has the support to get it done this year. Approaching her final year in the House, she said it’s incredibly important to get it done this legislative session. 

“I was raised on welfare, single mom, multiple stepdads, multiple mom’s boyfriends in the home; one of my stepdads was a dealer,” she said. “I had quite a bit of a different lifestyle than many of my colleagues. You know, I had to quit school at 15 to help take care of my family and had my first baby at 16. I’ve seen some things that maybe some others haven’t.”

Rehder said she feels a personal responsibility to explain how policies affect the people that grew up in “her part of the community.”