On Dec. 1 of each year, the global community celebrates World AIDS Day—a day that provides an opportunity for people to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for people living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died from AIDS.
This year marks the 28th anniversary of the first-ever global-health day, which started in 1988. Although we have seen scientific and technological advancements, since the first AIDS case (pdf) was reported in the U.S. in June 1981, stigma and discrimination have kept individuals living with HIV from receiving appropriate care and treatment in health care services. Among the often-undiscussed key drivers of the HIV epidemic are HIV-criminalization laws enforced throughout the United States.
HIV-criminalization laws largely refer to the overbroad use of criminal laws to penalize perceived or potential HIV exposure; alleged nondisclosure of a person who is knowingly living with HIV prior to sexual contact; or unintentional HIV transmission. These laws disproportionately affect already marginalized people, but if we are ever to achieve an AIDS-free generation in our lifetime, then the clear goal should be for lawmakers to focus on HIV prevention, which is not accomplished by enforcing HIV-criminalization laws against individuals.
Read the full article on TheRoot.com.