By Kevin Nix
At the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee Emerging Leaders Forum, held last week in D.C., state elected leaders from around the country, including Texas Representative Eric Johnson, convened to hear about the direction of the Democratic Party. What was different about this year’s meeting was the emphasis on HIV criminalization. Many didn’t know laws making it a crime to transmit HIV already exist on the books in some states, or that efforts were underway to pass such odious legislation.
With significant medical advances, HIV is no longer a death sentence. America’s laws shouldn’t treat it as such. At its core, the debate over HIV criminalization laws is about ignorance, unfounded fear, and/or discrimination.
Venita Ray, Legacy Community Health’s HIV policy manager, spoke to the DLCC forum about our successful efforts in 2015 and again this year to stop such discriminatory laws in Texas. But we are not out of the woods yet. Next year, Legacy will be developing a strategic statewide plan, drawing on other states’ experiences, ahead of the next legislative session to ensure criminalization doesn’t gain traction in Texas.
A special thanks to Ted Trimpa and Sean Strub for inviting Legacy to the forum.