Sign On TODAY! National Organizations Against Hep C Criminalization






Action Alert
 

Sign On TODAY! National Organizations Against Hep C Criminalization

Right now a bill is moving through the Michigan state legislature which would expand the current law criminalizing non-disclosure of HIV status with a sexual partner to include hepatitis C. NVHR is collaborating with the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance, the Positive Justice Project, and Michigan advocates  to show the support of national organizations for the state's hepatitis C and HIV advocates who are trying to stop this bill in its tracks.

Please consider signing your organization on to the letter below to Michigan State Senate and House leadership, to send a message that we stand united with Michiganders in our view that criminalization of people living with hepatitis C and HIV is wrong. Period.

To sign on, please email Christine Rodriguez at crodriguez@nvhr.org by COB tomorrow, Friday, December 12, 2014.  This initial letter is for national organizations only, but we are collecting sign-ons from all organizations to use in future efforts. If there are additional opportunities for local organizations outside of Michigan to weigh in, we will reach out -- NVHR is deferring to local advocates on strategy.

Thank you for your time and support!​

Christine Rodriguez, MPH
Public Policy Manager

National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable
1424 K Street NW #200 | Washington, DC  20005
office:  202.408.4848  x221  |  cell:  703.945.9698
email:  crodriguez@nvhr.org  |  web:  www.nvhr.org

Text of letter:

Governor Rick Snyder
rick.snyder@michigan.gov

Lt. Governor Brian Calley, Senate President
brian.calley@michigan.gov

Senator Randy Richardville, Senate Majority Leader
SenRRichardville@senate.michigan.gov

Senator Gretchen Whitmer, Senate Minority Leader
SenGWhitmer@senate.michigan.gov

Senator Roger Kahn
SenRKahn@senate.michigan.gov

Representative Jase Bolger, Speaker of the House
JaseBolger@house.mi.gov

Representative Tim Greimel, Minority Leader
TimGreimel@house.mi.gov

Re:  Senate Bill No. 1130

Dear Leadership of the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives:

On behalf of the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance, the Positive Justice Project and the undersigned medical, infectious disease, public health and allied organizations, we are writing to ask that you strongly oppose Michigan Senate Bill 1130 (SB 1130), which would amend sections 5101 and 5210 of Act 368 of the Public Health Code. This bill would compound the problems of the current HIV felony law – adopted when HIV was far less understood or treatable – by creating new felony penalties for people with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) for any kind of sexual penetration with an uninformed partner.

We are grateful to Senator Roger Kahn for bringing attention to the issue of HCV infections in Michigan and share his concern for the health and safety of all Michigan residents. We support legislative action that will increase testing and care for HCV and improve the well-being of Michiganders. For that reason, we oppose SB 1130 as contrary to these goals, and urge you to oppose this bill.

In Michigan, it currently is a felony for those who know they are HIV positive to engage in “sexual penetration, however slight” without first disclosing that status to a partner. Sexual penetration is defined to include oral, anal, and vaginal intercourse, but also includes inserting an “object” into a person’s “genital or oral openings.” (Act 368 of 1978, MCL§333.5210, available at http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?mcl-333-5210).

HCV is a blood borne virus that is seldom spread sexually, particularly among heterosexual couples, yet SB 1130 proposes to make people diagnosed with HCV prone to felony charges if an infected individual has “sexual penetration” without informing his or her partner.

Medical experts and public health officials agree that policies that criminalize the conduct of people living with communicable diseases, such as HCV, do nothing to decrease the rates of infection and, in fact, actually deter conduct and decisions that reduce disease transmission. Consequently, organizations such as the American Medical Association, the HIV Medicine Association/Infectious Disease Society of America, the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, and the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors all have issued statements calling for an end to use of the criminal law to deal with exposure to or transmission of HIV and other infectious diseases, including HCV. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, and the U.S. Department of Justice all have issued statements and guidance calling for an end to felony prosecutions of people living with HIV.  A bill that proposes not only to reaffirm Michigan’s outdated law on HIV but to add HCV is at direct odds with this growing national consensus.

Public health problems are not solved with criminal justice responses.  Instead, we should be encouraging people to get tested and treated:
 

We strongly urge you to oppose SB 1130 for the following reasons:
 

As HCV and HIV care providers and patient advocates, we are compelled to address well intentioned but misguided legislation like SB 1130. We thank you for your attention to this matter, and welcome the opportunity to discuss the problems associated with SB 1130 in more detail or to provide additional information you may find helpful. In the meantime, the position statements referenced above are available in the appendix attached below.

Respectfully submitted,

APPENDIX

Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, Resolution on Ending Federal and State HIV-Specific Criminal Laws, Prosecutions, and Civil Commitments (2013) (noting that the criminalization of HIV-affected people fuels HIV stigma), available at http://hivlawandpolicy.org/sites/www.hivlawandpolicy.org/files/PACHA_Criminalization_Resolution%20Final%20012513.pdf

American Medical Association, Modernization of HIV Specific Criminal Laws (2014), available at http://hivlawandpolicy.org/news/ama-adopts-a-resolution-opposing-hiv-criminalization

HIV Medicine Association, Repeal of HIV-Specific Criminal Statutes (2012), available at www.hivma.org/uploadedFiles/IDSA/Careers_and_Training/Opportunities_for_Students_Residents/ID_Career_Paths/HIVMA%20Policy%20Statement%20on%20HIV%20Criminalization.pdf

National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, National HIV/AIDS Strategy Imperative: Fighting Stigma and Discrimination by Repealing HIV-Specific Criminal Statutes (2011), available at www.nastad.org/Docs/114641_2011311_NASTAD%20Statement%20on%20Criminalization%20-%20Final.pdf

National Association of County & City Health Officials, Statement of Policy: Opposing Stigma and Discrimination Against Persons with Communicable Diseases (2013), available at http://www.naccho.org/advocacy/positions/upload/13-11-Opposing-Stigma-and-Discrimination-against-Persons-with-Communicable-Diseases-2.pdf

The Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, HIV Criminalization Laws and Policies Promote Discrimination and Must Be Reformed (2014), available at http://www.nursesinaidscare.org/files/public/ANAC_PS_Criminalization_December12014.pdf

U.S. Conference of Mayors, Resolution on HIV Discrimination and Criminalization (2013), available at www.usmayors.org/resolutions/81st_Conference/csj11.asp

Positive Justice Project, National Consensus Statement on the Criminalization of HIV (2012), available at www.hivlawandpolicy.org/resources/positive-justice-project-consensus-statement-criminalization-hiv-united-states-positive (this statement has more than 1000 organizational and individual endorsements from across the United States).

U.S. Department of Justice, Best Practices Guide to Reform HIV-Specific Criminal Laws to Align with Scientifically-Supported Factors (2014), available at http://aids.gov/federal-resources/national-hiv-aids-strategy/doj-hiv-criminal-law-best-practices-guide.pdf


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