In response to the announcement that the President's Advisory Council on AIDS (PACHA) Resolution on Ending Federal and State HIV-specific Criminal Laws, Prosecutions, and Civil Commitments, Congresswoman Barbara Lee has released the following statement:
"Today's announcement is an important advancement in our collective effort to modernize unjust and discriminatory HIV criminalization laws," said Congresswoman Barbara Lee, co-chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus.
"I join the President's Advisory Council on AIDS in calling on the Department of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention to issue clear guidance to states and public health departments on the counterproductive effects of HIV criminalization policies; we must end this clear discrimination against people living with HIV. Criminalization laws breed fear, discrimination, distrust and hatred, and we must end them."
Congresswoman Lee is the author of the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act which was endorsed by PACHA as part of the Resolution. The bill creates incentives and support for states to reform existing policies that use legal authority to target people living with HIV for felony charges and severe punishments for behavior that is otherwise legal or that poses no measurable risk of HIV transmission. Lee is also a member of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law which endorsed similar recommendations in a landmark report released July 2012.
"These laws undermine current HIV testing and prevention priorities and must reflect current medical and scientific knowledge and accepted approaches. We are fighting an epidemic, and we must have laws that are rational, holistic, and truly human rights-based."