March 27, 2017

HIV Caucus Co-Chairs Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Eliminate Discriminatory HIV/AIDS Laws

Washington, D.C. – Today, HIV Caucus Co-Chairs U.S. Representatives Barbara Lee and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen reintroduced the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act 2017, which would modernize laws and policies to eliminate discrimination against those living with HIV/AIDS. This bill expresses the sense of Congress that federal and state laws, policies, and regulations should not place a unique or additional burden on individuals solely as a result of their HIV status, and offers a step-by-step plan to work with states to modernize their laws.

“HIV criminalization laws are based on bias, not science. Instead of making our communities healthier, these laws breed fear, discrimination, distrust, and hatred. Our laws should not perpetuate prejudice against anyone, particularly against those living with diseases like HIV. By passing this legislation, Congress would send a signal that discrimination and stigma have no place in our laws,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13). “I am grateful for the continued partnership of my friend and colleague, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, in the fight to ensure that all are able to live with dignity and respect, and to one day achieve an AIDS-free generation.”

Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) added, “The fear and stigma surrounding HIV have led to a number of criminal statutes and penalties that do not improve public health. Since the establishment of laws which unfairly penalize individuals living with HIV, we have made great medical advances that prove that antiretroviral therapy can reduce HIV transmission risk. My colleague, Barbara, and I are introducing the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act in order to help eliminate needless and harmful statues and regulations which only shame individuals without providing meaningful benefits for HIV prevention and care.”

Today, 33 states and 2 U.S. territories have criminal statutes based on outdated information regarding HIV/AIDS. This bipartisan legislation would allow federal and state officials and community stakeholders to work together to repeal laws that target people living with HIV/AIDS. If passed, the act will be a key step toward ending unjust HIV criminalization laws in the United States.