The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), an organization that represents public health officials and administers state and territorial HIV/AIDS programs, has released a statement supporting efforts to end HIV-specific criminal laws and polices that perpetuate stigma and discrimination against HIV positive persons.
In its statement, NASTAD "support[s] level-headed, proven public health approaches that end punitive laws that single out HIV over other STDs and that impose penalties for alleged non-disclosure, exposure and transmission that are severely disproportionate to any actual resulting harm."
As a member of the Positive Justice Project (PJP), an initiative of the Center for HIV Law and Policy, NASTAD members have committed to examining existing public health policies related to HIV criminalization while emphasizing the importance of providing comprehensive prevention and care services for HIV positive individuals.
Terrance Moore, Associate Director, Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, of NASTAD and chair of the Positive Justice Project's Public Health Working Group, said, "NASTAD is public-health focused and very concerned about the impact of HIV-specific criminal laws and prosecutions that pose barriers to that focus. We will continue to work with our partners in providing justice to the HIV positive community."
Frank Oldham, Executive Director of The National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA), said, "We applaud NASTAD's ongoing support of the Positive Justice Project and the release of their statement in support of repealing existing HIV criminalization laws." Oldham added, "NAPWA has a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for the work that NASTAD has done on behalf of the HIV community and will continue to work in partnership with NASTAD and any other organization that is working to protect the lives and dignity of people living with HIV/AIDS."
"This is a significant step in addressing HIV criminalization around the country," noted Kali Lindsey, Senior Director of Federal Policy at Harlem United. "As advocates, we are thrilled to have NASTAD's leadership in our efforts to fight the discrimination perpetuated by these laws and prosecutions."
Catherine Hanssens, Executive Director of the Center for HIV Law and Policy, notes that NASTAD's statement, one of the first of its kind released by a national AIDS policy or service organization, provides an excellent model for other HIV organizations and advocates.