Movement Lawyering and HIV Decriminalization: A Panel Discussion

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The United States aims to reduce HIV infections by 90% nationwide by 2030. However, the enforcement of HIV-related laws often thwarts progress toward reducing significant HIV-related disparities. Currently, 35 states have HIV criminalization laws. These laws, many of which were drafted before HIV was fully understood and when effective treatment options were unknown, are outdated and do not align with current science. Some states criminalize conduct that poses a negligible risk of HIV transmission. Others discourage individuals from learning their own HIV status or alerting past sexual partners of potential exposure, limiting the opportunity for early treatment. This panel will examine critical lessons learned nationally and recommend a path forward for ending HIV criminalization and promoting social justice in Georgia. The panel will explore the role lawyers play as advocates and policymakers through the lens of the HIV decriminalization movement and identify ways that students, lawyers, and public health practitioners can become involved in advocacy work.