‘Obsession with Defending Criminals’: HIV Transmission Decriminalized in Illinois

Governor JB Pritzker (C) of Illinois, speaks to the media, alongside Mayor Nan Whaley (R)
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Illinois Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a law Tuesday decriminalizing HIV transmission. He also signed laws creating “gender-neutral” marriage certificates and expanding fertility insurance for LGBT couples and single parents.

According to a press release from the governor’s office, in an effort to “end HIV,” HB 1036 “modernizes the approach to public health regarding HIV in Illinois, by decriminalizing the transmission of HIV.”

The governor’s press release continues:

[T]his legislation amends the Unified Code of Corrections to remove the State’s Attorney ability to request the results of an HIV test if it is relevant to prosecute the charge of criminal transmission of HIV. The bill also amends the AIDS Confidentiality Act so that the disclosure of HIV-related information would no longer be able to be released. Ultimately, the legislation ensures HIV is treated like other chronic conditions, furthering the administration’s mission to end HIV in Illinois.

Illinois state Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Urbana), who came under scrutiny in May after disrespecting a fallen police officer on the state House floor, posted on Twitter, “laws that criminalize HIV were never about public health and safety. They were about pushing LGBTQ+ people, particularly within Black and Brown communities”:

The Illinois HIV Action Alliance claims, “The criminalization of HIV has harmed communities in our home state for decades. It has done nothing other than spread fear and stigma, and it discouraged people from getting tested or knowing their status.”

This effort is part of the Getting to Zero Illinois initiative to end the HIV epidemic in the Land of Lincoln by 2030.

Ammons, a cosponsor of the bill, said, “Not a single study throughout the country shows HIV criminalization has reduced HIV transmission in any jurisdiction where it exists. It was far past time to get rid of this harmful law, and we thank… Pritzker for repealing it once and for all.”

“This is just another example of Gov. Pritzker’s egregious war on victims in Illinois,” Illinois state Sen. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) said. “His obsession with defending criminals and those who would intentionally do others harm has solidified him as the most dangerous governor in America.”

HB 2590, a gender-neutral marriage certificate law signed Tuesday, allows a currently married couple to change the pronouns on their certificate and receive an updated copy. The other law, SB 139, allows couples planning to marry to choose genderless language such as “spouse” instead of “husband” and “wife.”

“Documents from the past can cause painful reminders of past stigmatization, or present bureaucratic issues in other jurisdictions,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said. “With the signing of SB139, Cook County is proud to stand with Governor Pritzker and the rest of Illinois as we align vital records with the self-affirming actions of our residents. Today, we take another step toward equity.”

Illinois is the second state, after Texas, to decriminalize HIV transmission.


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