GLAD AIDS Law Project Director and Senior Staff Attorney Ben Klein testified before the Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee February 24 in opposition to H 5245, An Act Related to Criminal Offenses – Criminal Transmission of HIV, proposed legislation that would criminalize failure to disclose HIV status.

In his testimony, Klein pointed to the consensus among leading medical and public health organizations that such a law, if enacted, would undermine public health efforts to prevent HIV and actually increase HIV transmission.

“Scientific evidence demonstrates that laws like H 5245 don’t lessen transmission,” says Klein. “The most powerful tool we have to prevent transmission is to ensure that people are tested for HIV and connected to medical care. Today, HIV medications are powerful enough to reduce the risk of transmission by over 96%. Criminal laws undermine these public health measures by stigmatizing people with HIV and deterring HIV testing.”

Following the hearing, the Judiciary Committee held the bill for further study, which should be its demise.

There are national efforts underway to repeal harmful HIV criminalization laws in other states (for more information see the Sero Project and the Positive Justice Project). Fortunately, no state in the northeast has passed such a law.

You can read Klein’s full testimony here.