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California says 'no more'

Antiquated HIV law is history


California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law landmark legislation to reform outdated laws that unfairly criminalized and stigmatized people living with HIV.

Senate Bill (SB) 239 was authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Asm. Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) and cosponsored by Equality California, the ACLU of California, APLA Health, Black AIDS Institute, Lambda Legal and Positive Women’s Network – USA. These organizations are part of Californians for HIV Criminalization Reform (CHCR), a broad coalition of people living with HIV, HIV and health service providers, civil rights organizations and public health professionals dedicated to ending the criminalization of people living with HIV in California.

SB 239 updates California criminal law to approach transmission of HIV in the same way as transmission of other serious communicable diseases. It also brings California statutes up to date with the current understanding of HIV prevention, treatment and transmission.

The bill fulfills a key goal of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and is consistent with guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice and with California’s “Getting to Zero” HIV transmission reduction strategy.

“The passage of SB239 marks tremendous progress for Californians living with HIV. Laws that criminalize HIV positive status are not based on science–they are based solely on hysteria and fear--and essentially create an underclass of people diagnosed with a disease, placing us at risk for discrimination and even violence,” said Naina Khanna, executive director of Positive Women’s Network, a national membership body of women living with HIV and a proud co-sponsor of SB 239.

“Today, California has proved once again that is a national leader on protecting safety, dignity and human rights for all its residents.”