Washington State's HIV-Related Legislation Misses the Mark

State legislators in Washington State have expressed an interest in eliminating HIV-specific criminal laws and prosecutions policies.

State legislators in Washington State have expressed an interest in eliminating HIV-specific criminal laws and prosecutions policies. The Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP) and the Positive Justice Project (PJP) applaud this worthy and urgent goal. Over the last year, CHLP and PJP have actively provided comments to legislators and support to community advocates in Washington State. The most current version, HB 2107, represents a significant improvement over an earlier version, HB 1261, which reflected an outdated understanding of the routes, risks, and consequences of HIV transmission. But HB 2107 misses the mark. It continues to characterize HIV and other sexually transmitted infections as "destructive and noxious substances." This reinforces the 1980s perception of people with HIV as innately dangerous and HIV as a "death sentence" rather than a chronic, manageable condition. The law also has problematic disclosure provisions that could place people living with HIV in danger, particularly those experiencing or at great risk of violence and abuse. HB 2107 has been tabled for this year.