PWN-USA Launches Inaugural Class of Policy Fellowship!

January 19, 2017: Positive Women’s Network-USA (PWN-USA) is proud to launch applications for our inaugural 2017-2018 Policy Fellowship for women living with HIV (WLHIV). The yearlong Policy Fellowship will advance our organizational mission to prepare and involve WLHIV in all levels of policy and decision-making by increasing participants’ ability to engage effectively in the federal policy and advocacy arena. In the current political environment marred by threats to sexual and reproductive rights, basic healthcare, the social safety net and civil and human rights, it is critical that WLHIV are equipped with a wide array of tools to support vibrant, visionary and strategic advocacy on behalf of their communities. Register for an informational webinar about the program and application process here.

The fellowship is open to all women living with HIV, including women of trans experience. We especially encourage young women, women of color, immigrant women, folks who are trans, LGB and gender nonconforming, who live in the South and who possess a strong desire to effect meaningful change in the lives of other WLHIV to apply.  Continue reading “PWN-USA Launches Inaugural Class of Policy Fellowship!”

SPEAK UP! 2016 – Registration Closed

August 2: Are YOU ready to speak up? SPEAK UP! 2016, the ONLY national leadership summit created by and for women living with HIV, is happening next month in Fort Walton Beach, Florida–and everyone is talking about it!

 

Registration is now closed, as we have reached capacity. If you would like to be added to our waitlist, please email your contact info (name, location, phone number and email) to pwnsummit@gmail.com.

For more information about the Summit, click here.
Registered for the Summit but have not submitted our questionnaire with important participant information yet? Click here.
Attending the Summit and have questions? We have answers. Check here.
Want to support the leadership of women living with HIV by sponsoring the Summit? We are still working to meet our fundraising goal! Learn more here.

PWN-USA Colorado Leads Activist Group in Winning Overhaul of Discriminatory, Outdated Laws

CO bill signing edit

Activists with Senator Steadman, Rep. Daneya Esgar and Governor Hickenlooper at the bill signing Monday, June 6, 2016. Photo credit: Thomas Bogdan 

** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE **

Contact:  Barb Cardell, CO Mod Squad Co-Chair, Barb@barbcardell.com 303-946-2529

June 8, 2016 – Colorado brought decades-old criminal laws including sentence enhancement for  knowledge of HIV–used disproportionately to target youth, people of color, transgender women and sex workers–into line with current science, when Governor John Hickenlooper signed SB 146 into law Monday, June 6. The effort to change the old criminal statutes– relics of ‘80s and ‘90s “AIDS panic” before HIV transmission was well-understood and before antiretroviral treatment dramatically improved the lives of people living with HIV, offering breakthrough advances in prevention–was led by a coalition of advocates who call themselves the “Colorado Mod Squad.” SB 146 was sponsored by Senator Pat Steadman (D-Denver) and Representative Daneya Esgar (D-Pueblo).

Before the change in law, sex work or solicitation of a sex worker with knowledge of HIV diagnosis was a felony—even if condoms were used and the defendant had an undetectable viral load (HIV cannot be transmitted when medication fully suppresses the virus). Penetrative sexual assault with knowledge of HIV diagnosis could mean that the sentence for the assault could be tripled—even in cases with no risk of HIV transmission. SB 146 eliminated felony offenses involving sex work and modernized much of the statutory language concerning sexually transmitted infections in the health code. While the sentencing enhancement for sexual assault by a person living with HIV remains in the criminal code, the new law reduces the enhancement to the maximum sentence and requires the prosecution to prove transmission first.

Colorado laws reflected a fear-based use of the criminal justice system to punish people for knowing their HIV status, a direct contradiction to CDC efforts to reduce HIV transmission by encouraging testing and treatment. Colorado was not unique: similar laws exist in over 30 states in the country, commonly known as HIV criminalization laws. “HIV criminalization affects all of us by shifting the burden of proof only onto the person living with HIV,” declared Lisa Cohen, chair of Colorado Organizations Responding to AIDS (CORA). “The only real protection is not to know your HIV status. This contradicts HIV prevention efforts and offers a terrible public health policy solution.”

“It’s unconscionable that we have permitted fear and bad science to dominate our laws covering sexual health,” remarked Senator Steadman, “and it’s past time that we had informed and respectful legislation in this area. Criminal law is an ineffective tool in our public health response.”

The legislation—supported by the Colorado Department of Public Health–took four years of organizing, soliciting input from stakeholders and strategic negotiations. “We had education sessions for ourselves and the broader community,” said John Tenorio, a Canyon City-based HIV activist and Mod Squad member, of the input-gathering process. “We’d listen to people’s concerns. Really listen. Because that’s what community is about – building consensus and addressing everyone’s concerns at the table.”

Advocates of the Mod Squad made sure existing protections for people living with HIV, unique to Colorado, including access to anonymous HIV testing, confidentiality of public health records and protections during the public health order process, were retained in the bill, and expanded many of them to all mandated reporting for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

“When we were asked to give up protecting sex workers in our modernizing language n, we refused,” Kari Hartel, Denver-based HIV activist and co-chair of Positive Women’s Network-USA (PWN-USA) Colorado, explained. “We knew this bill could be rendered useless if we let it die that way. We would be sacrificing our integrity if we let people say that sex workers and those accused of sex work didn’t deserve the same protection, or that modernizing our current statutes was just too challenging to pass right now.” Sex workers are particularly vulnerable under HIV criminalization laws, which are often used to enhance sentencing for lesser charges.

The Colorado Mod Squad, led by PWN-USA Colorado, will continue to organize to ensure the new law is implemented correctly and fairly throughout the state. “Getting this bill signed into law is a major achievement, but the real work for community groups starts now –in identifying other areas that need to be worked on,” Jeff Thormodsgaard of Public Policy Group , a key strategist for SB 146, pointed out.

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California Gov. Jerry Brown Signs HIV-Positive Organ Donation Bill

May 27, 2016–Sacramento: California Governor Jerry Brown today signed a bill that allows organ transplants between HIV-positive donors and HIV-positive recipients. Senate Bill (SB) 1408 was authored by Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) and co-sponsored by Equality California, AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and Positive Women’s Network-USA. The four organizations are part of the coalition Californians for HIV Criminalization Reform (CHCR), itself a supporter of the bill. SB 1408 brings state law in line with federal law and passed both the Assembly and Senate unanimously earlier in the day.

“These lifesaving surgeries have been proven safe and are now allowable under federal law,” said Allen. “There is no reason for state law to maintain an antiquated prohibition on organ donation by HIV-positive persons. By expanding the pool of organ donors, we will have shortened the time for all persons on the organ donor waiting lists, and saved lives in the process.”

The number of individuals in need of organ transplants far exceeds the availability of healthy organs. Yet California law criminalizes transplantation of organs and tissue from an HIV-positive donor to an HIV-positive recipient. Allowing the donation HIV-positive organs and tissue will save the lives of hundreds of HIV-positive patients each year, and shorten the waiting list for individuals awaiting transplants.

Read the full press release from Equality California here.

Advocates from 34 States & 4 Countries Convene at University of Alabama-Huntsville to Strategize Addressing Discriminatory HIV Laws at 2nd National HIV Is Not a Crime Training Acadmemy

**MEDIA ADVISORY FOR TUESDAY, MAY 17**

Contact: Jennie Smith-Camejo, jsmithcamejo@pwn-usa.org, 347-553-5174

Even as a bill repealing Colorado’s HIV criminalization laws awaits the governor’s pen, much work remains to be done to bring laws up to date with current science in at least 33 states.

Eleven states have laws on the books that can send people living with HIV to prison for behaviors (such as biting and spitting) that carry virtually no risk of transmitting HIV. Forty-four states have prosecuted people living with HIV for perceived exposure or transmission; most states permit prosecution even when no transmission has occurred, and actual risk is negligible.

In Texas, a man living with HIV is currently serving a 35-year sentence for spitting. In Idaho, Kerry Thomas is serving 30 years for allegedly not disclosing his HIV status to a partner – despite the fact that he took measures to prevent transmission, including using a condom and taking medications to maintain an undetectable viral load. Kerry Thomas’ accuser never acquired HIV. Yet his appeal was recently denied, demonstrating that current science continues not to matter to the courts.

“These laws make disclosure harder. Because we so fear the punishment, we just keep things bottled up inside,” says Monique Howell-Moree, who was prosecuted under a US military non-disclosure law and would have faced 8-12 years if convicted. “I didn’t know the best way to disclose … Had I had the support and knowledge that I have now back then, I would most definitely have done things differently.”

In her HIV/AIDS platform and in a recent meeting with activists, U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for “reform[ing] outdated and stigmatizing HIV criminalization laws.” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign has said the candidate is also “absolutely opposed” to these laws, according to the Washington Blade. The confluence of outdated laws, unjust prosecutions and profound disparities is bringing advocates and activists from 34 states and 4 countries together for the second national convening dedicated exclusively to strategizing to fight back in the name of human rights and public health.

WHAT: HIV Is Not a Crime II National Training Academy
WHERE: University of Alabama, Huntsville
WHEN: May 17-20, 2016

The Training Academy is co-organized by SERO Project and Positive Women’s Network-USA, two national networks of people living with HIV. It comes on the heels of a major victory in Colorado, where through the dedicated efforts of a group known as the “CO Mod Squad” (“mod” refers to “modernization” of the law), led by Positive Women’s Network-USA (PWN-USA) Colorado, a bill was passed last week that updates laws to take account of current science and eliminates HIV criminalization language.

“With people living with HIV leading the way and our allies supporting us, we were able to do something many thought we couldn’t,” said Barb Cardell, co-chair of PWN-USA Colorado and one of the leaders of the successful efforts. “The law now focuses on proven methods of protecting public health — like education and counseling — while discarding the language of criminalization, which actually discourages testing, treatment and disclosure.”

“This law represents real progress for Coloradans, regardless of their HIV status,” she added. At the Training Academy this week, Cardell will share some highlights and lessons learned from the CO Mod Squad’s experience.

Keynote speakers at the Training Academy include Mary Fisher, who stunned the audience at the 1992 Republican National Convention with a speech about her experience as a woman living with HIV; Joel Goldman, longtime advocate and managing director of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation; and Colorado state senator Pat Steadman, the senate sponsor of the bill just passed repealing HIV criminalization in his state. Session topics will explore best practices for changing policy, and will consider the intersections of HIV criminalization with issues ranging from institutional racism to transphobia, criminalization of sex work, mental illness and substance use, and overpolicing of marginalized communities.

“The goals of the Training Academy go beyond giving advocates the tools and know-how they need to change policy, to deepening our collective understanding of the impact of these laws and why they are enforced the way they are,” said Naina Khanna, executive director of PWN-USA. “We hope participants will leave better prepared to effect change by thinking differently, forging new partnerships and ensuring communities most heavily impacted by criminalization are in leadership in this movement.”

Several spokespeople will be available to address questions from media. You may contact the individuals below directly or through Jennie Smith-Camejo (contact information above):

Sean Strub, Director for SERO Project. (646) 642-4915; sean.strub@seroproject.com

Naina Khanna, Executive Director for Positive Women’s Network – USA. (510) 681-1169; nkhanna@pwn-usa.org

Robert Suttle, Assistant Director for SERO Project and HIV criminalization survivor from Louisiana. http://seroproject.com/video/robert-suttle/ (646) 589-2346; Robert.suttle@seroproject.com

Monique Howell-Moree, HIV criminalization survivor from South Carolina. http://seroproject.com/video/monique-moree/ (843) 345-8433; moniquemoree@gmail.com

Arianna Lint, founder and CEO of Translatin@ Services and Ariann@ Center, transgender rights and HIV activist. (786) 600-1915; ariannau@translatinacoalition.org

Barb Cardell, PWN-USA Board Member, leader of CO Mod Squad coalition behind successful Colorado bill. (303) 946-2529; barb@barbcardell.com

Check the training academy’s website and social media for the latest developments on the event:

http://www.hivisnotacrime.com

http://www.facebook.com/HIVIsNotACrimeConference

http://www.twitter.com/HIVIsNotACrime

Follow the hashtag #HIVIsNotACrime

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PWN-USA Colorado Leads Successful Effort to Repeal HIV Criminalization Statutes

colo_modsquad1
Photo credit: Victoria Law; from thebody.com

May 13, 2016: A Colorado team known as the “CO Mod Squad,” led by PWN-USA Colorado, in partnership with the Colorado Organizations Responding to AIDS (CORA) and the Colorado Department of Public Health, saw over four years of hard work and persistent advocacy pay off Wednesday, May 11, when Senate Bill 16-146, repealing two HIV criminalization statutes and significantly reforming the third, passed both the senate and the house. It now only awaits the governor’s signature to become law.

“Today we changed the world,” said Barb Cardell, PWN-USA Board Chair, co-chair of PWN-USA Colorado and a presenter at the HIV Is Not a Crime II Training Academy. “With people living with HIV leading the way and our allies supporting us, we were able to do something many thought we couldn’t and we had only dreamed of until now.”

The bill, introduced into the state senate in March by Sen. Pat Steadman (one of the keynote speakers at HIV Is Not a Crime II) and into the house by Rep. Daneya Esgar, updates statutes related to HIV to include all STIs, in accordance with current science and medical advances, and removes the HIV criminalization language in the statute.

“In 2014, at the first HIV Is Not a Crime conference in Grinnell, someone asked which state was going to be the next to reform their HIV criminalization laws,” added Kari Hartel, co-chair of PWN-USA Colorado. “I answered with confidence that it was going to be Colorado! It has been a long road, and this bill isn’t perfect. But if this process has taught us anything, it’s that our advocacy efforts CAN and DO make a difference!”

Read more about this historic victory in this fantastic article by Victoria Law for TheBody.com.

10 Days Until Huntsville! Speakers and Program Highlights Announced for the HIV Is Not a Crime II National Training Academy

HINAC countdown memes 44 statesMay 6, 2016: In just a little over a week, the HIV Is Not a Crime II National Training Academy will convene at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. There is still time to register to train alongside committed advocates building an intersectional movement to end HIV criminalization! The Training Academy will take place from May 17 – 20, 2016.

Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA) and the SERO Project — two networks of people living with HIV — have joined forces to organize the Training Academy. We are thrilled to announce three exciting keynote speakers at the event:

  • HIV community icon Mary Fisher, who spoke about her experiences living with HIV at the Republican National Convention (RNC), back in 1992;
  • Longtime advocate Joel Goldman of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation; and
  • Colorado State Senator Pat Steadman, who in March introduced a bill into the state senate that would effectively repeal or significantly amend the three HIV-specific criminal codes, remove sentence enhancements for knowledge of HIV status, and modernize STI statutes to include HIV.

See below for biographical information for our speakers, in addition to highlights from the event’s dynamic program!

The Training Academy will convene in the Deep South — the region most heavily affected by not only HIV, but many other symptoms of a history steeped in injustice and trauma.

Plenary session topics include:

  • What’s Working? Where Are We Struggling? Focus on State Strategies: Successes & Challenges
  • AntiBlackness & HIV Criminalization: Grounding Ourselves in Racial Justice 

Breakout workshop titles include:

  • Activists, Advocates and Lawyers: Collaborating to a Common Goal
  • Joining Forces: Mobilizing Feminists to Challenge Unjust Prosecutions
  • Building Youth Capacity to Effect Policy Change Through an Intergenerational Model

Evening events include:

  • Consent: HIV Non­Disclosure and Sexual Assault Law, Last Men Standing, and more (film screenings)
  • Advocacy, Action and Community Building Through Art
  • TIME IS NOT A LINE: (re)Considering our HIV Herstory for Collective Freedom

View the full program of exciting, thought-provoking, movement-building sessions here.

HIV is a human rights issue; criminalization of people living with HIV is a social justice issue. The Training Academy will unite and train advocates living with HIV and allies from across the country on strategies and best practices for repealing laws criminalizing people living with and vulnerable to HIV. The Training Academy will also center the voices of survivors of HIV-related criminal cases and prosecutions.

Come to Huntsville and learn strategies from advocates opposing these unjust laws!   

Keynote Speaker Bios

Mary Fisher

Mary Fisher Jose Picayo 3Author, artist, advocate, and social entrepreneur Mary Fisher is a global leader in the arena of social change through positive thought and action. A renaissance woman, Mary landed on every front page with her stunning keynote address speaking truth to power at the 1992 RNC, a speech since ranked among “the best 100 American speeches of the 20th Century” (Oxford University Press). Diagnosed with HIV in 1991 and with breast cancer in 2012, she retains an exuberant, eclectic style in her life, her words and her design. She has trained women worldwide to use her original concepts to find pride and dignity in work. Ms. Fisher will also offer a special workshop for women living with HIV at the Training Academy.

 

Joel Goldman

JGoldman_ETAF_Headshot-3812Joel Goldman is the Managing Director of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF).  In 1991, his career path was interrupted when he was diagnosed with HIV.  Told that he only had three years to live, he decided to make his infection a meaningful force in the lives of young people by raising their awareness of the reality of HIV/AIDS. Joel spent the next 14 years speaking to over a million students on more than 2,000 campuses, high schools, and faith-based youth programs. He sees his role at ETAF as helping reinvigorate the public’s conversation about HIV/AIDS and building on Elizabeth Taylor’s legacy as a leader and crusader in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

 

State Senator Pat Steadman (SD 31)

S-Steadman, PatSenator Pat Steadman was selected to Colorado’s Legislature in 2009 to fill a senate vacancy, then elected to finish his term and re-elected in 2012 — all to serve his home District 31. He has used his passion and knowledge of the legislative system to advocate for civil rights — as he did during his active role in opposing Amendment 2 in 1992, which aimed to dismiss all legal protections for lesbians and gay men in Colorado. The citizen-initiated constitutional amendment was ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court.

 

Questions? Please contact Tami Haught, SERO Organizer and Training Coordinator, at: tami.haught@SEROproject.com.

Stay tuned to the training academy’s website and social media for more information as the event approaches.

www.HIVIsNotaCrime.com
Twitter: @HIVIsNotaCrime
Facebook: /HIVIsNotaCrimeConference
#HIVIsNotaCrime

 

Young Women Living with HIV Deserve Support and Leadership Roles in HIV Community

PWN-USA Statement for National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

APRIL 8, 2016: Young women living with HIV have unique needs that often go unaddressed. HIV stigma, discrimination, ageism, complexities of treatment regimens, and economic challenges present a unique set of barriers to care and service delivery that can result in isolation, depression, and poor health outcomes. Navigating disclosure, dating, sex, employment, education, and parenting may be entirely different for young people living with HIV than for older adults. For those born with HIV, the realities of being a long-term survivor at age 20, 30, or 35 may have particular physical and psychological implications. In the United States, mass incarceration, community violence, and growing economic inequality may be affecting young generations impacted by HIV in unprecedented ways.

“When we talk about the needs of women, social support is critically important to our overall wellbeing,” says Grissel Granados, a young woman born with HIV who currently works as an HIV and STI testing coordinator in Los Angeles, and who released a documentary last year, We’re Still Here, exploring the complexities and challenges of growing up with an HIV diagnosis. “Even as we have seen funding cut for women’s support groups, communities of women have found ways to come together anyway. However, for young women living with HIV, it is much harder for them to create community with other young women–being that they are so few in numbers in any given city, young women don’t even know each other. There are not enough young women participating in larger HIV spaces because their needs are not being addressed and because they are not seeing themselves. As a larger community of HIV advocates, we need to make sure that we are intentional about including young women and supporting spaces that can bring young women together, even if it’s just to build a network for social support.”

In honor of this year’s National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD), Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA) calls for a national commitment to addressing the needs and upholding the rights of young people living with and vulnerable to HIV. Advocates for Youth has just released a NYHAAD Bill of Rights, proclaiming:

1. The right to live free from oppression,
2. The right to education,
3. The right to prevention,
4. The right to care and treatment, and
5. The right to live free from criminalization, discrimination and stigma.

“It’s an aspiration of mine to see something like this NYHAAD Bill of Rights in full motion because our young people are worthy to walk in this world with all provided tools, absolute support and love,” says Tranisha Arzah, a PWN-USA Board Member born with HIV who works as a peer advocate in Seattle. “If we demand these rights, with the full support of the larger community, young people can not only thrive but lead the way toward a future where barriers to prevention, treatment and care like stigma and discrimination no longer exist.”

PWN-USA wholeheartedly endorses this bill of rights. As we move well into the fourth decade of the HIV epidemic, we further call on the HIV community to endorse and actively promote leadership by young people living with HIV. We believe that if this epidemic ever sees its end, it will be because of effective, supportive and strategic intergenerational leadership building on the lessons of the past while looking toward a radical and visionary future.

PWN-USA is fully committed to empowering and supporting young women living with HIV to organize and strategize; to demanding and upholding their rights to healthcare, including sexual and reproductive care, that works for them and meets their unique needs; and to ensuring their meaningful participation in decision-making spaces.

We urge young women to present at and/or attend 2016 SPEAK UP! A National Leadership Summit for Women Living with HIV, where they will be welcomed, embraced, and where they can educate other women on their needs, concerns and vision.

Please join us on Twitter today at 4 PM ET/1 PM PT for a dynamic Twitter chat with Advocates for Youth about Article 5 of the NYHAAD Bill of Rights: The Right to Live Free from Criminalization, Discrimination and Stigma. Follow the hashtag #NYHAADChat and join the conversation. See you online!

Present a Session at the PWN-USA SPEAK UP! Summit

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March 31, 2016: Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA) is thrilled to announce our call for session proposals for SPEAK UP! A National Leadership Summit for Women Living with HIV 2016.

We invite proposals for various types of sessions (affinity groups, discussion group, or workshop) for SPEAK UP! Positive Women’s Network – USA’s 2016 National Leadership Summit.

SPEAK UP! A National Leadership Summit for Women Living with HIV will be held September 27-30, 2016, in Fort Walton Beach, FL. This Summit is open only to women with HIV, including transgender women with HIV.

In September 2014, PWN-USA held our first-ever National Leadership Summit to build advocacy skills and leadership capacity among over 200 women living with HIV from 26 states, the US Virgin Islands, Canada and Mexico. Participants from the 2014 Summit have gone on to do amazing work in their communities, fighting stigma, advocating for fair policies and supporting people living with HIV in their regions. The 2016 Summit will be designed for both first time participants and 2014 alumni as emerging and seasoned advocates to deepen advocacy and collective organizing strategies during a key election cycle.

You can read about the magic that happened at our 2014 Summit here.

The theme for SPEAK UP! 2016 is: Organizing for Collective Power.

We’re serious about building power. In this critical election year, we remain committed to our vision: a world where all people with HIV live free of stigma and discrimination. We work to achieve this by preparing and involving women living with HIV, in all our diversity, including gender identity and sexual expression, to be meaningfully involved at the tables where decisions are made about our lives, our communities, and our rights. We actively work at the intersections of race, class, gender, immigrant status, sexual orientation and more.

If you are interested in contributing to this growing and vibrant community, we encourage you to submit an abstract to conduct a session (workshop or other activity at the Summit). As a session leader you will ensure that information and skill-building activities are provided in line with PWN-USA values, priorities, and goals for the Summit.

There will be 5 core tracks at the Summit:

1) Rights, Power and Justice

2) Building Leadership Skills

3) Policy and Advocacy

4) Media & Strategic Communications and

5) Advancing the HIV Research, Care, and Prevention Agenda

Final decisions on session proposals will be made with an eye towards meaningful involvement of women with HIV and communities of color as presenters. In particular, we seek strong representation of women living with HIV, people of color, trans and gender non-conforming individuals, and young people as presenters. We welcome abstract submissions from well-intentioned allies and encourage allies to submit in collaboration with women living with HIV.

The deadline for proposal submissions is 11 PM EDT, Friday, April 29, 2016.

For more information about submitting your proposal, click here.

To submit your proposal, click here or download the Word version of the proposal submission form.

 

PWN-USA Colorado Makes Critical Progress Toward HIV Criminalization Reform

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PWN-USA Colorado members and allies

March 22, 2016: PWN-USA Colorado, in partnership with allies including the CO Mod Squad, the Colorado Organizations Responding to AIDS (CORA) and the Colorado Department of Public Health, has made enormous strides toward ending HIV criminalization in their state. Described by PWN CO Co-Chair and PWN-USA Board Chair Barb Cardell as a “community labor of love,” the process that began four years ago and included stakeholder meetings with over 100 participants, is finally starting to pay off.

A bill that would effectively repeal or significantly amend the three HIV-specific criminal codes, remove sentence enhancements for knowledge of HIV status and modernize STI statutes to include HIV was introduced into the state senate by state Senate Minority Leader Pat Steadman on March 4, and is co-sponsored in the Colorado House of Representatives by Represenative Daneya Esgar.

“Changing state law is never easy, but we hope that our Colorado lawmakers will support this legislation,” says PWN CO Co-Chair Kari Hartel. “We believe that common sense and compassion will win the day over fear and stigma.”

Want to get busy changing laws that unfairly target people living with HIV in
your state? Come to the HIV Is Not a Crime II National Training Academy in May! Registration is now open!