Letter to the Editor, March 30, 2021: HIV penalty clause hurts bill’s effectiveness

The Virginia state legislature has passed Senate Bill 1138, a bill that modernizes Virginia’s current HIV law and it’s now awaiting Governor Northam’s signature. However, unless he amends the bill by March 31 to reduce the felony penalty to a misdemeanor, the effectiveness of the bill will suffer. Under the current version, Virginians living with HIV – including LGBTQ Virginians – could still be penalized for up to five years in prison simply because of their HIV diagnosis. This goes against public health recommendations and will deter people from accessing healthcare and prevention services.

While there are incredible provisions in the bill that bring Virginia up to date with modern science, our work to lower the felony continues as the bill sits on the Governor’s desk.

Click here to read the article about the need to remove the felony statute before the bill gets signed into law.