HIV Modernization Summary Sheet
HIV Modernization is a complex and nuanced topic. Use this summary guide to understand the basic concepts behind our HIV Advocacy Project. This brief description also discusses the current legislative efforts of HB 427 and SB 626.
HIV Advocacy Talking Points
Florida leads the country in the rate of new HIV transmissions. Equality Florida’s HIV Advocacy Project is a new statewide initiative to curb the rate of new transmissions in our state. The HIV Advocacy Project was born from the need to address this important public health issue as it still disproportionately affects the LGBTQ community. The project consists of a statewide public education campaign to inform residents of the dangers of stigma, misinformation, and the current Florida outdated HIV-specific laws, which continue to serve as a disincentive for people to seek testing and treatment.
HIV Modernization Movement - Why This is Important
- Florida is one of 32 states and two US territories that has HIV-specific laws that are outdated and in need of modernization to align with the current science of HIV treatment and prevention. These laws continue to be used against people living with HIV regardless of intent to harm others or actual transmission having occurred.
- These laws work against public health policies, perpetuate the stigma of HIV, and discourage people from knowing their HIV status. In Florida, people living with HIV can be found criminally liable for up tp to 30 years in prison if they fail to disclose their HIV status to a consensual partner before any type of sexual contact. Someone can be convicted of HIV transmission even when transmission is impossible or if transmission does not occur.
- Florida’s laws criminalizing people living with HIV disregard the varying levels of risk of the full range of sexual behavior. It ignores biomedical advances that prevent people living with HIV from transmitting HIV to their negative partners or any preventative measures taken by either party.
- People living with HIV who are in treatment oftentimes become “undetectable.” The Center for Disease Control recently published a memo stating that “people who achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load pose no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner.”
HB 427 and SB 626: HIV Prevention
- HB 427 and SB 626, sponsored by Rep. Nicholas Duran (D - Miami) and Sen. Jason Pizzo (D - Miami), is bipartisan legislation that aims to modernize HIV statutes to bring them up to date with current medical advances in HIV treatment and prevention. They seek to address the current stigma against people living with HIV and hope to increase the number people getting tested, treated, and to undetectable status.
- HB 427 and SB 626 update statutes by:
- Allowing people living with HIV to donate organs when deemed medically appropriate by a physician this has the potential to save thousands of lives.
- Clarifying that criminal transmission of HIV includes an intent to transmit and only when the negative partner is unaware that the other person can transmit a sexually transmitted infection.
- Aligning criminal transmission of HIV with criminal transmission of all sexually transmitted infections in Florida.
- Clarifying that people living with HIV who are in treatment, use prevention methods, and meet the CDC’s definitions of “undetectable” pose no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to negative partners.
- HB 427 and SB 626 do not impact prosecution of those who people who seek to harm others by intentionally transmitting HIV. It is, and will continue to be, illegal to intentionally transmit HIV to a negative partner.
- Regardless of HIV-related laws, there are a number of criminal statutes in Florida that protect people from deceptive or malicious transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Laws that specifically single out people living with HIV only serve to further marginalize and stigmatize which in turns erodes efforts to get people into testing and treatment.
- We all want to be able to earn a living, provide for our families, and live long and healthy lives surrounded by family, friends, and loved ones. Florida’s HIV criminalization laws dehumanize people living with HIV and create a climate of fear, mistrust and danger for communities that already experience marginalization.
- HB 427 and SB 626 will save the state hundreds of thousands of tax dollars and relieve pressure on an already strained criminal justice system. Current law unfairly punishes and incarcerates people who have no intent to do harm and, in most cases, when no harm is done. If we believe that our criminal justice system’s laws should be fair and effective, these statutes should be the first on our list for modernization.