Biden policy proposal would decriminalize exposure, transmission of HIV, AIDS

Although it was initially tantamount to a death sentence for most who contracted it, AIDS has since become a largely treatable disease allowing most infected patients to continue living a relatively normal, healthy life.

As such, a growing number of politicians — including Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden — are pushing to put an end to laws that criminalize the transmission of the disease and the virus that causes it, HIV.

“Comprehensive HIV/AIDS strategy”

According to Fox News, the former vice president has fully embraced the repeal movement as part of his fledgling policy agenda ahead of his presumptive inauguration next month.

In fact, he has gone so far as to claim that there is no longer any “scientific basis” for the continued illegality of transmitting the virus.

The proposed policy comes as part of Biden’s broader plan for addressing “LGBTQ+ equality” both domestically and abroad under his prospective administration.

Part of the program would focus on reducing the alleged discrimination and “stigma” surrounding those living with HIV or AIDS, particularly among members of the U.S. military. The Biden team favors “updating” the “comprehensive HIV/AIDS strategy” first rolled out under former President Barack Obama’s administration.

As for decriminalizing exposure to the sexually transmitted infection, Biden’s campaign website asserted:

In 2018, 26 states in America had HIV exposure criminal laws. These laws perpetuate discrimination and stigma towards people with HIV/AIDS, and there is simply no ‘scientific basis’ for them. As President, Biden will support legislation like the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act, which promotes best practice recommendations for states.

“High-consequence event”

A Journal of the International AIDS Society study was linked to that campaign policy point in an effort to prove that medical professionals are moving away from recommending criminal charges for exposing an uninfected person to the disease.

That study went on to assert that while acquiring HIV is still a “high-consequence event,” there have been sufficient advancements in treatments and therapies to reduce and suppress the viral load in infected patients, thus reducing the threat of transmission.

If exposing others to the virus remains criminalized, researchers determined that those who became infected might be less likely to seek treatment.

A 2017 bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) was also referenced in the Biden proposal. Among other goals, the bill sought to “modernize laws and policies, and eliminate discrimination, with respect to people living with HIV/AIDS.”

Obama advocated a repeal of related legislation as far back as 2010, saying at the time that “we understand the intent behind these laws” but criminalizing the transmission of HIV and AIDS “may not have the desired effect” and “may make people less willing to disclose their status by making people feel at an even greater risk of discrimination.”

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