Nashville CARES Advocacy works in tandem with the Tennessee AIDS Advocacy Network to fight for the HIV community to live with dignity and respect through legislative and grassroots work. Nashville CARES and TAAN have been working on HIV law modernization for over 11 years and have made incredible strides over the last few years. Modernizing the current criminalization laws for people living with HIV is necessary to de-stigmatize people living with HIV and create a safer and more equitable state for them to live.
The current law (TCA 39-13-109) states that if a person living with HIV knowingly exposes another individual they are subject to a penalty of a Class C felony, and includes the requirement that the offender be listed on the sex offender registry for a violent sexual offense. The current law does not require actual transmission of HIV, nor does it draw distinction between intentional harm, consensual relationships, or protective measures that may have been taken to prevent transmission.
Nashville CARES Advocacy and TAAN brought a bill (HB1214/SB1165) to the Tennessee state legislature during the 112th General Assembly that would have eliminated the requirement that those convicted be placed on the sex offender registry. After a long and difficult battle, the bill passed the Senate, but was unfortunately stopped in the House after not receiving enough votes to pass.
However, the Advocacy team, advocates, and TAAN will continue to push forward, educate, and fight for change to modernize and decriminalize people living with HIV in the state of Tennessee.
Get involved and become an advocate!
Paula D. Foster, LCSW
Advocacy & Special Projects Coordinator