Author Topic: UCLA Law decriminalizing HIV transmission  (Read 303 times)


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UCLA Law decriminalizing HIV transmission
« on: August 12, 2018, 10:39:59 AM »
UCLA Law team makes successful case for decriminalizing HIV transmission

Williams Institute and Los Angeles HIV Law and Policy Project members drive passage of California Senate Bill

Joshua Rich | December 05, 2017

California Gov. Jerry Brown helped redress
decades of HIV-related stigma when, on Oct. 6, he signed a measure
eliminating the possibility that a person can be convicted of a felony for
exposing others to HIV, thus bringing it in line with the treatment of all other
communicable diseases in criminal law. The passage of Senate Bill 239 marked
a major milestone in one of the most-groundbreaking HIV modernization efforts
in the country and capped a three-year-long initiative, in which the reports and
testimony of UCLA School of Law students, academic fellows and alumni had a
profound impact on Sacramento lawmakers.

Now, the intentional transmission of an infectious disease which had been a
felony punishable by up to eight years in prison is at worst a misdemeanor
resulting in six months in jail. In addition, SB 239, which was introduced by
state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), deleted from the books a law that
made it a felony to solicit sex while HIV positive. The reforms alleviate a harsh
burden on marginalized women and people of color who had been
disproportionately affected by many HIV-related state statutes enacted in the

"Our research corrects what continues to be a long-held and mistaken belief:
that these laws keep the public, you and your loved ones safe," said Ayako
Miyashita, director of the law school's Los Angeles HIV Law and Policy Project
and former Sears Law Teaching Fellow at the Williams Institute in the UCLA
School of Law.

"These laws have no effect on the HIV epidemic other than to destroy the lives
of people coming into contact with the criminal justice system," Miyashita
added. "People are still under the assumption that HIV will kill, and that is
simply inaccurate. While HIV is still a serious, chronic condition, we know it's
really HIV stigma that kills the stigma is why people don't get tested and
partly why people don't stay in care."

Williams Institute researchers identified the disparate impact that the
HIV-related criminal laws had on disadvantaged communities and pointed out
that modern medical treatments have significantly reduced the risk of
transmitting and acquiring HIV. Advocates from the Los Angeles HIV Law and
Policy Project utilized that data in pressing lawmakers for reform.

Among other findings, the Williams Institute research revealed that women
made up 43 percent of those cited under the old law, even though only 13
percent of Californians living with HIV at the time were women. In addition, 67
percent of the people who had contact with the criminal system related to their
HIV status were black, Latino or Latina, and 15 percent were foreign born.
"Being able to provide complete, accurate and detailed data specific to a policy
issue that was currently being re-examined on a statewide level was incredibly
rewarding," said Amira Hasenbush, UCLA alumna and now the Jim Kepner Law
and Policy Fellow at the Williams Institute , who conducted the research on the
enforcement of these laws. "Several times, legislators specifically cited our data
points to emphasize the impact that these laws had on real lives."

'This bill decreases the likelihood that I will be arrested'

For some members of the UCLA Law team, the work was personal.
"As a person of color living with HIV, the passage of this bill decreases the
likelihood that I will be arrested because of my serostatus," said Hussain Turk, a
fellow at the Los Angeles HIV Law and Policy Project. Turk briefed and testified
before lawmakers, including the California Legislative LGBT Caucus and the
state's Senate Committee on Public Safety. "I am grateful and relieved, but,
most importantly, I am energized to continue advocating for the black and
brown communities that are most heavily impacted by the HIV epidemic."
Turk, who graduated from the law school in 2016, worked alongside 2017
graduate Anthony Pinggera and current students Mariah Lohse and Luis

Vasquez, now a second-year law student, performed legal drafting and research
last summer for a subcommittee of Californians for HIV Criminalization Reform,
a group that spearheaded the passage of SB 239. The work helped him earn a
coveted position at the U.S. Government Accountability Office in Washington,
D.C., for next summer.

"Through my work in support of SB 239, I came to see how legal practice can
elicit positive change by showing the real, human impact of our laws, which our
discipline sometimes fails to consider," Vasquez said. "Knowing that the skills I
have been developing at UCLA Law helped contribute to this incredible change
in the law is simply unbelievable. I look forward to seeing how they can be used
next to serve those in need."

It's Time to End Policies That Treat People Living With HIV as Expendable
By Gabriel Arkles , Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU LGBT & HIV Project
DECEMBER 1, 2017 | 3:00 PM
Definition of Hats aka "Conflict of Interest" Statement: Mary-Jane is Editor of Perth Gay News, The Media Annuncio of the Perth Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence of the Abbey of the Black Swan & Editor @ HIV Institute of WA.

#Twitter @AbbeyBlackSwan1

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UCLA Law decriminalizing HIV transmission
« on: August 12, 2018, 10:39:59 AM »