This summer people living with HIV in the U.S. have faced a wave of criminal charges for activities with extremely limited or no risk of HIV transmission:
- May 2008: An HIV positive man in Texas is charged with using his “infection as a weapon” after biting a police officer during a scuffle with a security guard.
- May 2008: Another HIV positive man in Texas is charged with assault with a “deadly weapon” after spitting at a police officer and receives a 35-year sentence.
- July 2008: An HIV positive woman in Georgia is sentenced for 3 years in prison for spitting in another woman’s face.
- August 2008: A New Hampshire man of unknown HIV status is forced to pay a fee for an HIV test of a police officer he is accused of spitting on.
The media has picked up these stories, framing the accused as maliciously trying to spread the disease, even in cases where transmission is impossible. This spreads misinformation, threatening to undo decades of community education efforts.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have long said that saliva, tears, or sweat do not present an appreciable risk of HIV transmission, but severe sentences have been upheld for people living with HIV in the U.S.
It’s time for the CDC to support the work of advocates in this fight against the senseless criminalization of HIV positive people in the U.S.
You can help! CHAMP is calling on the CDC to adopt a communications strategy to combat dangerously misleading information concerning the transmission and communicability of HIV to counter these criminal prosecutions of people living with HIV. Join the community sign-on letter to add your voice to the effort.
Please click here to sign-on today! http://www.champnetwork.org/criminalization-hiv-transmission-sign-letter
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