Via press release:
On World AIDS Day 2014, Lambda Legal urges those tasked with enforcing U.S. criminal law – from governors to prosecutors to police detectives – to halt the criminal prosecution of people based on their HIV status, thereby assisting efforts to combat the misconceptions, fear, stereotypes, discrimination and stigma faced by people living with HIV that fuel the epidemic in the U.S. and around the world.
HIV criminalization is a striking example of how misinformation, stereotypes and unfounded fears affect people living with HIV and of the government engaging in discrimination that perpetuates these stigmatizing messages. Imposing unjustified and unnecessary criminal prohibitions on people with HIV has led to a society where people are – among other forms of oppression – imprisoned, classified as felons and forced to register as sex offenders, based on outdated and inaccurate information regarding HIV.
We have not come nearly far enough in educating the public about HIV and in reducing stigma and discrimination. Fear and ignorance about HIV and discrimination against people living with HIV remains a serious problem that both marginalizes people and poses barriers to treatment and care.
Lambda Legal remains committed to securing equal protection and equal rights for this community – because living with HIV is not a crime. Lambda Legal’s commitment to fighting HIV and AIDS stigma and discrimination began more than twenty-five years ago in 1983 when we filed the nation’s first challenge to AIDS discrimination and helped secure a court order stopping the efforts of neighbors to evict a doctor from his offices because he treated HIV-positive patients.
That commitment remains strong today. People living with HIV have a right to work and live free from discrimination, and laws, policies and other governmental actions should be based on sound science rather than fear and bias.
RELATED: In June, Lambda Legal won a case before the Iowa Supreme Court which reversed the conviction of an HIV+ man who had initially been sentenced to 25 years in prison for not disclosing his status before having a one-time sexual encounter during which he used a condom. The ruling came one month of Iowa reformed its laws on infectious disease exposure and transmission. Deliberate intent to infect the other person must now be proven.