HIV Is Not a Crime: Images, Perspectives and Strategies from the Grinnell Gathering

hinac_smallInclusion. Collaboration. Conflict resolution. Restorative justice. Nuance. Challenge. Coalition. Rage. Healing. Power.

There was an energy in Grinnell, Iowa, last week as more than 150 dedicated advocates gathered for HIV Is Not a Crime: The Grinnell Gathering, from June 2-5, for a unique conference to learn, share, strategize, and build a strong, healthy movement to end HIV criminalization.

We do not all look the same. We rarely all agree. But the level of commitment to this common goal from a host of angles inspired and galvanized attendees at this historic gathering.

Whether or not you were present at the Grinnell Gathering, this collection of perspectives on HIV criminalization coming out of the conference delivers a strong sense of what transpired in Iowa — and what’s to come in this movement nationwide. Stay tuned for more from PWN-USA leaders engaged in the struggle to end criminalization of HIV status.



HIV Is Not a Crime small group pic
PWNers and fellow advocates arrive in Iowa for HIV Is Not a Crime!

Decriminalization of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), by Rev. Monica Cross (The Transgender Scholar)
“Those of us who consider ourselves progressive religious leaders must answer the call of solidarity regarding the decriminalization of HIV. To answer this call we must move beyond our narrowly defined identities, issues, and concerns which are dictated, for the most part, to us by the powers that be. That said, HIV is code for the New Jim Crow.” Read more

Women Speak Out Against HIV Criminalization at Advocacy Conference, by Mathew Rodriguez (
“Two HIV-positive women who faced prosecution under HIV criminalization statutes focused on criminalization’s effects on women … Each woman was then asked to give one word that summed up her approach to activism. ‘Voice,’ said Monique Moree. ‘Truth,’ said Tiffany Moore.” Read more

Find even more coverage of the conference and the issue at


panelists on stage
Panelists speak on “Working Together to Achieve Optimal Results” in movement-building.

Advocates Speak: A Snapshot of Voices and Perspectives from Grinnell, by Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Esq. (Center for HIV Law and Policy)
“I want to share a snapshot of the conversations that took place among advocates and community members at the conference. The themes represented here are not exhaustive, but they form a powerful and inspiring platform for action, movement-building, and social change over the next year.” Read more

Advocates Mobilize for 1st National “HIV is Not a Crime” Conference, by Alison Yager, Esq. (Housing Works)
“As Naina Khanna, Executive Director of Positive Women’s Network-USA articulated, criminalization is ‘a proxy for racism, homophobia, and the policing of the reproduction of women of color.’ In the words of Sean Strub, the roots of HIV criminalization are ‘as old as time… greed, indifference, intolerance, fear, selfishness, and insensitivity.’ Conversations begun at the national “HIV is Not a Crime” Conference promise a broadening of the coalition of allies.” Read more


kerry thomas criminalization meme
Kerry Thomas, currently incarcerated for being HIV positive, is the subject of this powerful image by HIV Is Not a Crime’s Flash Collective.

WATCH: Once imprisoned for being HIV+, two men freed during #HIVisNotaCrime conference, by Alexandra Bolles (GLAAD)
“At the first-ever HIV is Not a Crime Conference, held this week at Grinnell College in Iowa, Bogardus and Rhoades were freed from their GPS monitoring devices with bolt cutters by Attorney Dan L. Johnston and State Senator Matt McCoy, respectively. All in attendance looked on during the event’s closing ceremony. It was an act of great symbolism, great triumph, and great new beginnings.” Read more

THE BIG WIN: Nick Rhoades, Donald Bogardus “Freed” in Iowa at HIV is Not a Crime Ceremony, by Diane Anderson-Minshall (HIVPlus Magazine)
“Once sentenced to a quarter century in prison as sex offender after having sex using a condom, HIV-positive Nick Rhoades becomes hero in anti-criminalization movement.” Read more

VIDEO: The Powerful “HIV is Not a Crime” Conference, by Mark S. King (
“The most powerful speaker at the recent ‘HIV is Not a Crime’ conference was a man named Kerry Thomas. He held the crowd of more than 150 advocates spellbound for a full twenty minutes. And he never even took the stage.

When one of the conference organizers, Reed Vreeland, stepped forward to introduce the next speaker during the opening night program, the energized audience had already heard a few stories of both injustice and inspiration. … Reed lifted his cell phone to the podium, and the strong, clear voice of Kerry Thomas, six years into his sentence at Idaho Correctional Facility, began to speak.” Read more — and watch Mark’s video blog below for a great snapshot of the gathering


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s