Organizations Push to Modernize HIV laws in First HIV is Not a Crime Awareness Day

CLEVELAND – Naimah O’Neal has lived with HIV for 30 years. She was diagnosed in 1992 at the age of 29. She said she believes she either got the virus from her husband, who was using substances, or from receiving blood after she broke her arm in her 20s.

“I never even thought that as a heterosexual woman that I had to deal with HIV,” said O’Neal, who is a medical social worker for Circle Health and an advocate for people living with HIV. “It’s not about how many partners you have, you could have one partner and be HIV positive. What it is, is not protecting yourself.”

HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. Today, it’s known that it can affect anyone regardless of sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, gender or age.

“As long as you’re having sex and you’re not using a condom or you’re not protecting yourself with what they have now, PREP, then you’re at risk,” said O’Neal. “You have some kids who were born with it. And they acquired it from their mothers who gave it to them, so it doesn’t care.”

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State Lawmakers Introduce Resolution backed by the Ohio Health Modernization Movement to Recognize World AIDS Day

Aim to End Stigma Around HIV/AIDS, Acknowledge 40th Anniversary of First Reported Cases

COLUMBUS, Dec. 1, 2021 – Today, the Ohio Health Modernization Movement (OHMM) coalition, along with Democratic State Representative Dr. Beth Liston, MD, brought a resolution to the Ohio House of Representatives that will formally recognize December 1, 2021, as World AIDS Day.

In addition to commemorating this important day, the resolution serves to acknowledge the 40th anniversary of the first reported cases of HIV/AIDS; and commit to combating stigmas around HIV/AIDS to improve health outcomes to bring an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ohio. Full resolution text is HERE.

Resolution sponsor Representative Beth Liston (D) said in her press release, “After 40 years, science has made significant advances in the prevention and treatment of HIV. It is within our grasp to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ohio. As we work towards this, we must first end the stigma around living with HIV/AIDS..,”

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Featured Op-Ed's


Doctors: Anti-science Ohio laws perpetuate fear, sending innocent people with HIV to jail

At the height of the HIV epidemic, Ohio political leaders created six laws that were not based on science but on fear.

Twenty-five years later, we know far more about HIV and have proven tools to end the HIV epidemic. Unfortunately, these laws keep us from reaching that goal. It’s time to fix them.

More:Opinion: Ohio law codifies fear, discrimination for people living with HIV/AIDS

Tremendous advancements in the treatment and prevention of HIV have been made. Reflecting on the frightening early days of the epidemic, it is astonishing just how far we’ve come.

We know that HIV is not shared by shaking hands, hugging, drinking from the same glass or even from kissing. We also know that antiretroviral treatment taken by people living with HIV reduces the virus to undetectable levels.

For the good of all of us, it is time we modernize HIV laws

Ohioans with HIV live in the shadow of an ugly legal relic of the 1990s. Back then, lawmakers responded to the HIV epidemic by passing laws that targeted people living with HIV with what we now know are unjust, unscientific and counterproductive laws.

Read Infectious disease expert, Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum’s op-ed in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Let's end the HIV epidemic

What does HIV in Ohio look like today? The present looks far better than the past. We’ve been living with HIV since the early 1980s. Back then, doctors raced to figure out what it was, and many people here and around the world died for lack of effective treatment.

Read Dr. Jasmine Bradley’s op-ed in The Courier.

Kent woman living with HIV for 18 years urges updates to Ohio laws

I’m a straight woman who tested positive for HIV thanks to a man I dated. It happened in 2003, after my previous boyfriend was sent to prison for 10 years.

Read Kimberly Glanz’s op-ed in the Akron Beacon Journal.

Ohio law codifies fear, discrimination for people living with HIV/AIDS

Testing positive for HIV in the 1980s was a death sentence for nearly everyone. Most people died within two years of diagnosis.

I was diagnosed in 1986 and lived.

Graig Cote is a person living with HIV/AIDS in Columbus. He has been an advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS for more than 30 years.


Ohio HIV Laws must catch up with science and society

Ohioans with HIV live in the long shadow of an ugly legal relic of the 1990s. Ohio’s HIV-specific laws, first enacted in 1996, are unscientific, unproductive and unjust. It is time that these laws are modernized to reflect accurate science, good public health policy and justice for an unfairly stigmatized group of Ohio citizens.

Drs. Barbara Gripshover and Ann Avery are infectious disease specialists in Cleveland. Read their op-ed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The Ohio General Assembly should revisit a measure adopted decades ago to fight acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and its precursor, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) The law makes it a second-degree felony to fail to disclose one’s known HIV status to potential sexual partners, a higher-degree felony than reckless homicide. Yet medical advances and increasingly affordable medications can now make HIV-positive individuals nontransmissable — if they know their status and seek treatment writes the Editorial Board of  Cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer

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