Peters in mask

Sen. Robert Peters (D-13th)

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate on May 25 passed a measure decriminalizing the transmission of HIV championed by local Sen. Robert Peters (D-13th).

It already passed the House and will need only a signature from Gov. JB Pritzker to become law.

House Bill 1063 would eliminate existing criminal statutes that penalize HIV transmission as a Class 2 felony. If Pritzker signs the bill, Illinois would join 11 other states that do not have laws criminalizing the transmission of HIV, including Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

HB 1063 also would repeal existing laws allowing law enforcement or state’s attorneys to access a person’s HIV status. Under current criminal law, a person who transmits HIV to another person can be charged with “criminal transmission of HIV.”

“Laws that criminalize HIV are outdated, dangerous, discriminatory, and out of line with current science,” Peters said in a statement. “This practice has no place in modern society. HIV is a medical condition and must be treated as such. Individuals living with it should not have to fear being punished simply because they are sick.”

Current law prohibits the forced disclosure of a person’s HIV status but provides exceptions for law enforcement officials or state’s attorneys to subpoena or petition for the HIV status of criminal defendants.

The Illinois HIV Action Alliance, which lobbied for the bill, praised its passage.

“The truth is HIV criminalization never improved safety or public health in Illinois — in instead, it has only caused suffering to people living with HIV, their families, and their communities. It has promoted stigma and discrimination, and it has discouraged testing, treatment, and disclosure for decades,” the group wrote in a written statement Tuesday.

Peters sponsored the bill in the Senate and Rep. Carol Ammons (D-103rd), from Urbana, was lead sponsor in the House.

It passed out of the Senate by a vote of 37-17 on May 25, and passed from the House last month by a vote of 99-9.

“No other condition is treated as unfairly as HIV, so it’s time we remove the stigma surrounding it and allow folks who are living with it to get the treatment they need,” Peters said.

Herald staff contributed from Chicago. Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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