Positive Justice Project

The Positive Justice Project (PJP) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to end HIV criminalization in the United States. PJP is a truly community-driven, multidisciplinary collaboration to end government reliance on an individual's positive HIV test result as proof of intent to harm, and the basis for irrationally severe treatment in the criminal justice system. We engage in federal and state policy advocacy, resource creation, support of local advocates and attorneys working on HIV criminal cases, and educating, organizing and mobilizing communities and policymakers in the United States.

The goal of PJP is to bring an end to laws and policies that subject people with HIV to arrest and increased punishment on the basis of gross ignorance about the nature and transmission of HIV, without consideration of the actual risks of HIV exposure.

The Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP), PJP's founding organization, provides ongoing coordination with the active support of PJP's six working group chairs and the many individual and organizational members of PJP.

There are six PJP working groups with specific areas of focus to help meet PJP goals. The list below describes each working group:

  • Community Outreach: Engages members and leaders of key communities and organizations, e.g., people of color, women, religious, LGBT, civil rights, youth, and others to combat HIV criminalization.
  • Federal Advocacy: Focuses on strategies targeting federal agencies (e.g., the Department of Justice; Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS; Office of National AIDS Policy, etc.) and federal policies (e.g., Ryan White CARE Act incentives to states to adopt laws; prosecution of service members with HIV). Working Group Co-Chairs: William McColl (AIDS United) and Catherine Hanssens (CHLP).
  • Legal: Researches and reports on legal developments and trends, possible challenges to existing laws, alternatives to current HIV criminalization laws and approaches, post-conviction relief for currently incarcerated individuals, and assistance to attorneys in pending cases. Working Group Co-Chairs: Scott Schoettes (Lambda Legal) and Andrew Novak (American University, Washington College of Law).
  • Media: Develops messaging, media strategies, and talking points to educate the media, constituencies, and policymakers about the harms of HIV criminalization. 
  • Public Health: Engages public health leaders, agencies, and professional organizations to become visibly involved in the movement to end HIV criminalization. Working Group Co-Chairs: Terrance Moore (National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors) and Oscar Mairena (National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors).
  • State Advocacy: Works with local advocates to develop strategies to modernize criminal laws and prosecution policies that target people with HIV. Working Group Chair: Rashida Richardson (CHLP).

For more information about PJP or the PJP Working Groups, contact us at pjp@hivlawandpolicy.org.