On August 3, 2020, Gov. J.B. Pritzker several bills into law that provide aid to the LGBTQ+ community in Illinois, including one that decriminalizes the transmission of HIV. The previous law discouraged testing and treatment for HIV.
According to HB 1063, people with HIV can no longer be criminally charged for exposing another individual to the virus without their knowledge. Pritzker said that the new legislation will help make Illinois a safer place for everyone and research showed that the old law failed to curb HIV transmission throughout the state.
In the late 1980s, the criminal transmission law was passed by state lawmakers. This offense was considered a Class 2 felony, punishable by imprisonment for up to seven years and fines of up to $25,000.
Unfortunately, this legislation disrupted public health strategies since it made people reluctant to get tested in fear of criminal prosecution. In addition, the law was overly discriminatory and harsh to black, Latino, indigenous, and LGBTQ+ communities. According to court data from Cook County, African American men consisted of over two-thirds of those who were charged with criminal transmission law.
Illinois becomes the second state to repeal laws making HIV exposure a Class 2 felony. Since 2014, there have been five states that have repealed their criminal transmission laws.
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