245602 Impact of Failing to Disclose and Criminalization on People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH/A) in the United States

Monday, October 31, 2011

Vanessa Johnson, JD , 8401 Colesville Road, Suite 505, National Association of People with AIDS, Silver Spring, MD
Catherine Hanssens, JD , Center for HIV Law and Policy, New York, NY
Sean Strub , Center for HIV Law and Policy, New York, NY
Since the 1983, people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH/A) have had to overcome insurmountable challenges and hurdles to ensure survivability. With the advent of effective treatments, it appeared that PLWH/A would have the opportunity to live a “normal” life. But stigmatization in the form of laws that criminalize non-disclosure and the transmission of HIV have the potential to dismantle the efforts the PLWH/A community has made to ensure that PLWH/A are treated with dignity and respect. This presentation will include: 1) The history of criminalization of HIV non-disclosure and transmission in the US; 2) The role of existing criminal laws in the US; 3) How these laws have been applied across various states in terms of the number of prosecutions and convictions under these laws; 4) The differences between consensual and non-consensual behavior, misconceptions about transmission risk, and the need to address behaviors that do not present a risk of HIV transmission; and 5) How the field of public health should respond. The presentation will also include an examination of a new resource manual that outlines protocols for legal and community advocates when PLWH/A face criminal prosecution for non-disclosure. The purpose of the resource manual is to help legal advocates, community advocates and PLWH/A respond to the criminal justice system and the media coverage that inevitably will follow as well as helping PLWH/A facing prosecution and their counsel to understand their rights and protections under the law. Finally, the presentation will end with a discussion about possible alternatives to HIV criminalization.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Define and explain HIV criminalization and how these laws are enacted across the US. 2. Demonstrate the impact of HIV criminalization laws utilizing case studies of individuals prosecuted under these laws. 3. Discuss whether or not HIV criminalization laws are an appropriate tool for addressing a public health challenge. 4. Identify viable alternatives to HIV criminalization.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Criminal Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have prior experience in planning, coordinating, and organizing educational activities, i.e. congressional briefing, in this area. I also represent the organization I work, the National Association of People with AIDS, on the Positive Justice Project (PJP), THE PJP is a program of the Center for HIV Law and Policy.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.