Pop quiz: Who are the global leaders in prosecuting people for potential HIV exposures? The surprising answer: the U.S. and Canada.
Recent years have seen a surge in arrests and harsh prosecutions of people with HIV — such as the gay, black man living with HIV in Michigan who faced bio-terrorism charges after he allegedly bit another man during a brawl. Another HIV positive man was convicted of assault even though his partner was aware of his status! Even spitting caused controversy this year, despite the fact that HIV can’t be transmitted through saliva.
The U.S. National HIV/AIDS Strategy emphasizes that stigma and discrimination remain “extremely high,” and calls for a review of all criminalization laws. Rep. Barbara Lee recently introduced the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act in Congress. Let’s hope there is some serious progress in 2012.