Thanks to the power of modern science, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, recently signed legislation updating the state’s HIV disclosure policy. According to POZ magazine, it is no longer a crime (formerly punishable by up to 10 years in prison) to fail to tell someone your HIV status before engaging in sexual activity.
The bill, SB 164, was first introduced in the Senate by Republican Senator Chuck Hufstetler and supported in the House by Republican Representative Sharon Cooper. According to Georgia Equality, the bill had received “nearly unanimous support” in both chambers.
Georgia is following the example of many other states that have updated their HIV-related laws to better align with modern science, particularly the U=U movement. U=U, or “undetectable equals untransmittable,” is the globally accepted scientific consensus that when one is on HIV treatment and reaches an undetectable viral load, the virus has no chance of being transmitted to a sexual partner – even without a condom.
However, Capital Beat reported that under the revised law, people living with HIV can still be charged with a crime and serve up to five years in prison if they show intent to transmit HIV, and that “according to current scientific evidence, there was a significant risk of transmission at supported levels.” of risk transfer.”
“As a person living with HIV, I am encouraged that lawmakers understand the advances in HIV science. Ending the stigma surrounding HIV is a necessity to end the HIV epidemic, and I look forward to continued efforts to support people living with HIV,” said Malcolm Reid, co-chair of the Georgia HIV Justice Coalition and federal policy chair of the People Living With HIV Caucus, in a press release.
“These efforts are the product of people’s power,” said Kamaria Laffrey, project director at the Sero Project, an advocacy group fighting the criminalization of HIV. People living with HIV “will have less stigma. Mobilizing and centering the voices most impacted by these laws, in partnership with building strategic relationships with legislative advocates, is the key element in how the people living in Georgia have made this amazing feat possible.”