Governor Jerry Brown today signed into law landmark legislation to reform outdated laws that unfairly criminalized and stigmatized people living with HIV.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 APLA Health, Equality California, ACLU of California, Black AIDS Institute, Lambda Legal and Positive Women’s Network – USA.
“Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals,” said Senator Wiener. “HIV should be treated like all other serious infectious diseases, and that’s what SB 239 does. We are going to end new HIV infections, and we will do so not by threatening people with state prison time, but rather by getting people to test and providing them access to care. I want to thank Governor Brown for his support in helping to put California at the forefront of a national movement to reform these discriminatory laws.”
“State law will no longer discourage Californians from getting tested for HIV,” said Asm. Gloria. “With the Governor’s signature today, we are helping to reduce the stigma that keeps some from learning their HIV status and getting into treatment to improve their health, extend their lives, and prevent additional infections. I want to thank Governor Brown for signing SB 239. This action keeps California at the forefront in the fight to stop the spread of HIV.”
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” new HIV infections strategy.
“Today Governor Brown has corrected an ugly era of California politics when misunderstanding and fear of people living with HIV was widespread,” said Craig E. Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of APLA Health. “SB 239 will end unfair prosecutions of people living with HIV, reduce HIV-related stigma, and improve the health of our communities. The bill will also pave the way for other states across the country to reform outdated and discriminatory laws that target people living with HIV.”
For more information, please visit eqca.org/chcr.