Examining the Criminalization of HIV Transmission and Exposure at the Center for HIV Law and Policy

New York, New York
United States of America

I worked at the Center for HIV Law and Policy, a nonprofit organization in New York City. CHLP is a national legal and policy resource and strategy center, serving people with HIV and their advocates. They work to reduce the impact of HIV and secure human rights through research and advocacy. CHLP consults on legal cases and policy issues, coordinates a national network of attorneys, community members, service providers and activists, and maintains a legal and policy resource bank online.

I worked on a number of projects over the course of the summer. The first was research for the scientific and technical papers for the recent UNAIDS experts meeting on the scientific, medical, legal and human rights aspects of the criminalization of HIV transmission and exposure. I compared the harms of HIV to those of other infectious and chronic diseases, showing the lack of scientific reasoning for treating HIV exceptionally under the law. I wrote a blog post on the dangers of ableism and the need for disability inclusivity in the fight against HIV. I also researched the history of infectious disease surveillance in the United States. Throughout the summer, I helped update CHLP’s online resource bank and tracked current domestic legal cases involving HIV criminalization.

It was an incredible experience working in a small organization with such inspiring and dedicated people. Not only did I learn specifically about current issues in HIV law and policy, but I also saw to what a great extent health policy shapes individual lives, and what goes into advocating for policy change.