UPDATE: In 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 239 into law, transforming the legal landscape with respect to HIV criminalization in California. Click here for a Q&A on the new changes to the law.
Under the new law, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D- San Francisco) and Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), criminal penalties based on a person’s HIV status cannot be imposed unless the person acts with the intent to harm another person. Read our Q&A to understand the changes to the law, how these changes will improve public health, and the steps those previously convicted under these laws may be able to take to clear up their criminal record.
Californians for HIV Criminalization Reform (CHCR) is a coalition of organizations and individuals dedicated to ending the criminalization of HIV in California. Our mission is to mobilize a broad coalition, including individuals and communities who are disproportionately impacted by HIV, to replace fear-based, stigmatizing laws that criminalize HIV-status with evidence-based, nondiscriminatory laws that protect public health. CHCR is led by a steering committee including:
Over the past 25 years, laws were passed in California that criminalized otherwise legal behaviors or added penalties to existing crimes for people living with HIV. These laws were largely based on irrational fears about people with HIV, our limited understanding of the routes and risks of HIV transmission, a limited number of effective prevention options, and the perception of that time of HIV as an incurable and inevitably fatal disease. In the years since, medical science has greatly improved our understanding of the routes and risks of transmission, there are increasingly more effective biomedical methods of preventing acquisition of HIV, and effective treatments have dramatically lengthened and improved the quality of life for people living with HIV. We need to modernize these laws to take into account current scientific knowledge about HIV.
The efforts of the coalition are based on specific principles to modernize these laws and eliminate these problems. We believe a model law must include:
The CHCR webpages are supported through the generous contribution and support from the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.