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TN HIV Modernization Coalition

Advocating for just and evidence-based laws and policies.

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Tennessee HIV Modernization Coalition

The Tennessee HIV Modernization Coalition is a grassroots group of volunteers comprised of people with HIV, HIV service providers and public health and legal policy leaders working to together to modernize Tennessee’s HIV-related criminal statutes.

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Fighting Back Against Discriminatory Laws That Impact People Living With HIV

By Michelle Anderson
March 25, 2024

In October 2023, the ACLU, the ACLU of Tennessee, and the Transgender Law Center filed a lawsuit to challenge Tennessee’s aggravated prostitution law on the basis that it discriminates against people living with HIV, like me, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I joined this lawsuit because this law has had such a detrimental impact on me and my life. No one should be forced to endure what I have endured.

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Justice Department Sues Tennessee for Enforcing State Law that Discriminates Against People with HIV

February 15, 2024

“People living with HIV should not be subjected to a different system of justice based on outdated science and misguided assumptions,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a news release.

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TN HIV Modernization Coalition Members
Making a Difference

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Tennessee’s Aggravated Prostitution Law Tried To Ruin My Life. It Failed, and Now My Siblings in Power Are Taking It On.

By Tiffany Moore
December 1, 2023

To date, HIV remains the only health diagnosis that results in this discriminatory judicial process. Predictably, this charge disproportionately harms populations that have already been historically marginalized: Black people and sex workers.

How I Helped Change the Law That Put Me and Other Black People with HIV Behind Bars.

By Lashanda Salinas
February 7, 2024

The police arrested me at my job. Being in jail, having a $100,000 bond I wasn’t nearly able to afford, and accused of a crime that I did not commit was the most terrifying time of my life.

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Justice Department Finds that Enforcement of Tennessee State Law Discriminates Against People with HIV

This announcement comes on World AIDS Day, an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the HIV pandemic.
December 1, 2023

The Justice Department announced today its finding that the State of Tennessee, including its Bureau of Investigation (TBI) and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by enforcing the state’s aggravated prostitution statute against people living with HIV.

Plaintiffs File Federal Suit to Overturn Tennessee’s Aggravated Prostitution Statute

ACLU Press Release
October 24, 2023

Lawsuit challenges requirement to register as a violent sex offender based on HIV status

Case: OUTMemphis v. Lee

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Senate Bill 0807/House Bill 832 

signed into law on May 7, 2023!

Exposure to HIV removed from offenses requiring sex offender registration!

Changing Laws and Changing Lives!

THMC celebrates Lashanda Salinas and her successful removal from the registry! 

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HIV Criminal Laws in Tennessee

Tennessee has two statutes that apply only to people with HIV.

  1. Aggravated Prostitution TCA 39-13-516: If you know you are HIV positive and you engage in sex work it is a Class C felony (3 to 15 years). Passed in 1991.

  2. Criminal Exposure to HIV TCA 39-13-109: If you know you are HIV positive or have viral hepatitis and (1) engage in “intimate contact” without first disclosing your status, (2) donate blood, tissue, organs, or semen, or (3) share needles, it is a Class C felony (3 to 15 years). Passed in 1994.

  • Sex Offender Registry TCA 40-39-202: People arrested for aggravated prostitution are required to register as lifetime violent sex offenders. 

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HIV is no longer a death sentence. It is a chronic, treatable disease.

With proper medical care, HIV can be controlled. People with HIV who get effective HIV treatment can live long, healthy lives and protect their partners.

It cannot be assumed that a person living with HIV is infectious and can transmit HIV to another person.

  • In fact, a person who is living with HIV and taking HIV medication is able to reduce the amount of HIV in the blood to levels that are undetectable with standard tests. This means that they cannot transmit the virus by sexual activity, a concept known as undetectable=untransmittable, or U=U.

  • A person who takes antiretroviral therapy (ART) as prescribed, and gets and stays virally suppressed, not only can live a long and healthy life but also will not transmit HIV to sexual partners.

  • Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a pill taken by HIV-negative people to prevent HIV infection, reduces the risk of acquiring HIV sexually by 99% when taken daily.

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Major medical and scientific advances have made HIV a manageable long-term condition. The American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, and the U.S. Department of Justice each advocate for repealing or revising state laws that criminalize non-disclosure of HIV status.

HIV Criminal laws do not reduce rates of HIV.

  • Criminalization laws undermine public health HIV prevention efforts by discouraging people from knowing their HIV status due to increased stigma, shame and the fear of prosecution.

Laws are not punishing HIV transmission.

  • Transmission is rare. Arrest is due to an allegation of failure to disclose. No evidence is necessary for conviction other than a person knows that they have HIV.

The severity level of punishment is unwarranted.

  • An arrest for either HIV statute is a felony requiring lifetime registration as a violent sex offender.

HIV Laws overwhelmingly impact minorities and marginalized populations.

  • The total number of people living with HIV in Tennessee was 18,069; of those, 10,179 or 56% were African American or black (TDOH, 2020).

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The Williams Institute's Report of Enforcement of HIV Criminalization in Tennessee.

  • See how the enforcement of HIV criminal laws in Tennessee are  disproportionately affecting women, African American Tennesseans, and African American women in particular.

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"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together"

Vincent van Gogh

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Contact THMC

1490 Union Ave. #222


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