Law

Miami Lawmakers Refile Bill to Modernize Florida’s HIV Laws

Senator Jason Pizzo (D - Miami) and Representative Nicholas Duran (D–Miami) Refile Bill to Modernize Florida’s HIV Laws
Senator Jason Pizzo (D – Miami) and Representative Nicholas Duran (D–Miami)

Tallahassee – Senator Jason Pizzo (D – Miami) and Representative Nicholas Duran (D–Miami) have filed SB 626 and HB 427, HIV Modernization, which would bring Florida’s HIV-specific criminal penalties into alignment with modern medical understanding regarding HIV transmission and put Florida on a path to ending the HIV epidemic.

The current laws with respect to HIV are outdated and were enacted at a time when far less was known about its risk and modes of transmission.

This legislation proposes necessary changes to the law to reduce stigma, clearly define circumstances warranting prosecution, and aligns Florida’s laws with the Federal HIV Organ Policy Equity Act and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Research indicates that although modern medical treatments have significantly reduced the risk of transmitting and acquiring HIV, HIV-related stigma is one of the primary reasons people do not get tested or continue treatment for HIV,” said Representative Duran. “This stigma is in part perpetuated by outdated criminal laws that this bill will help tear down to encourage proper testing and treatment.”

“Today, HIV can be manageable as a chronic disease,” said Kamaria Laffrey, a woman living with HIV and Coordinator for the Florida HIV Justice Coalition, a group of public health, legal, and civil rights experts advocating modernization.  “In our state, there are around 120,000 individuals living with HIV. Treatment can reduce a person’s viral load to undetectable and untransmittable levels. Thanks to incredible medical advancements, people living with HIV can live long, healthy and fulfilling lives.  The Florida HIV Justice Coalition commends Senator Pizzo and Representative Duran for their leadership in this step toward updating Florida law and ending the HIV epidemic in Florida.”

“The need for these changes is clear: both the Center for Disease Control and the Department of Justice have issued recent guidance to reform the HIV transmission laws in order to better align them with public health goals and contemporary science,” said Senator Pizzo. “The American Medical Association, the American Bar Association, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, and other public health experts support modernization.” In a recent press conference, Lt. Governor Jeanette Núñez stated that Florida should “treat HIV like other chronic illnesses to help reduce stigma and discrimination.”

The legislation introduced by Senator Pizzo and Representative Duran is an important step toward realizing that goal.

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