Florida HIV Modernization Bill Clears First Committee Hurdle

Tallahassee, FL - Legislation to bring Florida’s existing HIV criminalization statutes into alignment with current science successfully passed out of its first committee hearing at the Florida Capitol yesterday. The Florida House Criminal Justice Subcommittee voted 10-3 to advance the legislation (HB 79) after hearing from House bill sponsor Representative Nick Duran (D - Miami) and HIV advocates on the need for reform.

Advocates with the Florida HIV Justice Coalition celebrated the first step toward modernizing Florida’s HIV laws.

As a person living with HIV, I feel that Florida has a responsibility to match our law with current science,” said Alejandro Acosta, HIV Advocacy Project Coordinator for Equality Florida, a member of the Coalition. “This legislation will save lives and take care of the whole community. It will help decrease HIV stigma, encourage people to get tested, and get into treatment.”

Coalition members Brenda Dye, a local Tallahassee advocate living with HIV, and Dr. Paul Arons, who served as Medical Director for the Florida Department of Health Bureau of HIV/AIDS for 18 years, also provided testimony. Video of the hearing is available at this link (bill discussion begins at 21:55).

Florida currently has one of the highest rates of HIV transmissions per capita and in total in the country. Senator Jason Pizzo (D - Miami) has filed similar legislation (SB 846) in the Florida Senate, which has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

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