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State lawmaker aims to change antiquated HIV laws

Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 4:09 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - These days there are HIV and AIDS awareness parades.The White House has even had a red ribbon wrapped around it.

But awareness and acceptance hasn’t always been this way when it came to this disease.

“Biting, spitting, scratching, when we talk about HIV, we know for a fact, in no way shape or form, you can get HIV by body spitting, and scratching,” says Andre Wade with Silver State Equality. “And so, it is that kind of language to update and modernize,” says Wade

Wade is executive director of Silver State Equality. For advocates like him, and those before him, it’s time to treat HIV and AIDS like any other communicable disease in terms of laws and regulations within the state of Nevada.

Right now, HIV and AIDS fall under some criminal statutes within this state.

“Why is HIV the only one with criminal lines?” asks Senator Dallas Harris, a democrat, who represents District 11. “It is time now we start the way we start flipping these things so we can lead to a better outcome for everyone. This to me is a public health issue,” says Senator Harris.

Senator Harris has introduced SB 275 which updates state law to reflect what is now known about HIV and AIDS. In the senator’s opinion it’s time to treat this communicable disease like any other and place it under those statues.

That includes stopping the criminal pursuit of patients who try to knowingly infect others with the disease. A theory that was touted in the early 90s, but not really based on reality.

“The goal is to treat HIV like any other communicable disease,” says Senator Harris. “And so, what we have done is take it out of the criminal statute and placed it in the health statue where it belongs. This is a public health issue. And when we put things in criminal statutes we are disincentivizing people from knowing their status,” she says.

Senator Harris is confident her bill will be voted out of committee tomorrow April 8th. She says there was no opposition to SB 275 when it was heard by committee members in Senate Health and Human Services initially.

From there SB 275 will be voted on the senate floor, if approved it heads to the Nevada Assembly.

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