Despite enormous scientific and medical advances in the treatment of HIV, stigma around the virus continues to persist. Discrimination against those living with HIV remains pervasive in employment, housing and medical care. And in over 30 states, people with HIV are criminalized to the extent that even the possibility of HIV transmission is punishable by fines and incarceration.
Eighteen months ago, in September 2017, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) finally recognized reality, posting on their website that “suppressing HIV through antiretroviral therapy (ART) prevents sexual transmission of HIV.” This was a huge victory for HIV activists whose campaign, Undetectable Equals Untransmittable, or U=U, has long demanded that public policy catch up to advances in treatment of the disease and acknowledge that those with no viral load pose no risk of giving the virus to their sexual partners.
But despite the CDC’s concession, laws remain on the books in more than 30 states making the possible transmission of HIV a criminal act punishable by fines, incarceration or both.