Annual observance comes after major changes in Georgia state law
On February 28, 2023, the Fulton County Board of Health joins other health care organizations in observing “HIV is Not a Crime Awareness Day”. This day was first observed in 2022 as an opportunity to encourage a response to HIV that lessens the stigma surrounding an HIV positive diagnosis and assists in limiting the community spread of HIV infections.
The 2023 commemoration comes as Georgia lawmakers enacted major changes in the state’s laws regarding those who are HIV positive with the passage of one piece of bipartisan legislation, Georgia Senate Bill 164, which was signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp in May of 2022.
The new Georgia law reflects new medical evidence regarding current means of HIV transmission and seeks to eliminate stigma associated with an HIV positive diagnosis and encourage potentially HIV positive persons to get tested to know their status.
Under the new provisions, prosecutors would be required to prove a person with HIV intended to knowingly infect others rather than simply being aware that they were HIV positive. Under the revised law, the felony charge penalties decrease from 10 years to 5 years.
The change in Georgia law follows the advocacy of organizations working on behalf of those people living with HIV and as those organizations encourage other states to make similar changes. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services estimates that laws on the books in more than 30 U.S. states, allow for using a person’s positive HIV status in a criminal prosecution or increasing charges or punishments because the person has HIV.
The Fulton County Board of Health provides a variety of services that help protect residents from health threats, increase access to health services to improve health outcomes, and provide information that assists Fulton County citizens in living healthier lives. For more information on the Fulton County Board of Health, visit http://www.fultoncountyboh.com.