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HIV decriminalization bill moves out of committee

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The Illinois House Judiciary-Criminal Committee voted 18-0 to approve HB1063, which would end criminal penalties against people living with HIV on Tuesday.

The Illinois House Judiciary Criminal Committee advanced two bills Tuesday with unanimous support, one to decriminalize transmission of HIV and another to expand protections for survivors of sexual assault, according to Capitol News Illinois.

An amendment to House Bill 1063, introduced by Democratic state State Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Urbana) changes Illinois statutes related to persons living with HIV/AIDS and its transmission. Currently, a person who transmits HIV to another person can be charged with “criminal transmission of HIV.”

Greater Community AIDS Project (GCAP) said it was proud that the amendment was introduced by their local representative.

“The Greater Community AIDS Project (GCAP) is excited that the bill passed the House overwhelmingly and now is in the Senate,” said Mike Benner, executive director of GCAP. “We feel this is yet another way to help combat the stigma surrounding HIV. With the advent of PrEP (pre exposure prophylaxis) and the science behind U=U (undetectable [viral load]) = (Untransmittable [sexually] archaic laws from the 1980s were due for change. This hopefully will encourage more people to know their HIV status.”

Illinois HIV Action Alliance, a coalition of HIV organizations that includes Central Illinois Friends, also celebrated the passage.

“HIV criminalization is ineffective and dangerous because it discourages testing, treatment, and disclosure – all of which are key to preventing the spread of HIV and ending the epidemic,” the organization said in a statement. “It is time for this destructive law to be repealed – this legislation will bring an end to these harms and change how we approach this public health issue in Illinois.” 

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