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Regarding HIV Criminalization

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Activists Welcome DOJ Crackdown on HIV Criminalization Laws

January 31, 2024

Adam M. Rhodes

Late last year, the U.S. Department of Justice warned the state of Tennessee that its “aggravated prostitution” statute—which makes it a felony to engage in sex work while HIV positive—violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. Activists hope the measure shows how the government can use the ADA to fight ableism around the nation.

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DOJ Tells Tennessee to Stop Enforcing Law Affecting Sex Workers with HIV

December 4, 2023

WKNO | By Katie Riordan

Federal prosecutors contend an aggravated prostitution charge unlawfully singles out HIV positive individuals for harsher penalties by raising a standard prostitution conviction from a misdemeanor to a felony and requiring sex offender registration.

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HIV-Specific Penalties for Sex Workers Come Under Legal Challenge

October 25, 2023

WKNO | By Katie Riordan

A new lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and other rights groups, alleges that the state’s so-called aggravated prostitution statute is unconstitutional and violates the American with Disabilities Act.

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Tennessee Removes Required Sex Offender Listing for Decades-Old HIV Disclosure Law

June 7, 2023

WKNO | By Katie Riordan

Tennessee will no longer require sex offender registration for someone convicted of not disclosing an HIV diagnosis to a sexual partner. Nearly 30 years ago, lawmakers made it a felony for an individual to knowingly have HIV and not tell someone with whom they “engage in intimate contact.”

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“The biggest problem with the Tennessee laws are: One, that they are outdated, but secondly, you don’t have to transmit HIV to be arrested. People are arrested and convicted just based on the fact that they have HIV and someone has accused them of not disclosing,” University of Memphis professor Robin Lennon-Dearing said during Tuesday’s episode of This Is Nashville. 

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July 19, 2022

WKNO | By Katie Riordan

New research by Lennon-Dearing and Nathan Cisneros with the Williams Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, finds that the laws disproportionately affect women, Black people and— here in Tennessee—residents of Shelby County.

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How HIV criminalization laws target women—and how women are fighting back

March 7, 2022 

POZ • By Heather Boerner

Whether it’s Tami Haught, who was key to getting Iowa to remove people living with HIV from the sex offender registry in 2014, or Barb Cardell, who advocated successfully in Colorado for the elimination of mandatory HIV testing for people arrested for sex work and the removal of felony charges from someone living with HIV convicted of sex work, or Naina Khanna and other members of Positive Women’s Network–USA, who worked to reduce sex work charges for women with HIV from felonies to misdemeanors, women living with HIV have been guiding the movement against HIV criminalization for years.

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Evolving the HIV Decriminalization Movement

February 13, 2023

POZ • By Tim Murphy

In May, Strub will retire as Sero’s founding executive director and become a senior adviser, while Haught and Laffrey, currently co–managing directors, will become co–executive directors.

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