World AIDS Day 2018

December 1, 2018, is the 30th annual World AIDS Day, an event “for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.”

Unfortunately, this spirit of unity, support, and remembrance is not shared by everyone. In some U.S. states (as well as in other countries), specific laws criminalize HIV-positive people and certain behaviors.  

These laws criminalize the transmission of, or perceived exposure to, HIV and other infectious diseases. A number of criminal laws on sexually transmitted infections explicitly include HIV, whereas others, such as in New York, contain broad definitions of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) or “infectious disease” that can apply to HIV.  

Some of these laws criminalize not just exposure to or transmission or HIV, but also behaviors—such as spitting–that have no risk of HIV transmission. These laws are not based in scientific evidence about actual risk or transmission pathways, but rather based on outdated prejudicial beliefs and harmful stigma about people living with HIV.  

These policies are used to prosecute, fine, or even imprison people living with HIV, many of whom may be LGBT people. This can discourage people from being tested for HIV, leading to adverse public health outcomes. For more information about these laws and their impact on people living with HIV, check out MAP’s report SpotlightHIV Criminalization Laws. 

MAP tracks these laws in our HIV Criminalization Laws map, which relies on the statutory research conducted by the Center for HIV Law and Policy.

Overall, 82% of the U.S. adult population lives in a state with an HIV criminalization law on the books—that’s 38 states! Because the specific content of these laws vary so widely, the prosecution and penalties can also vary widely. And in states with no known prosecution or HIV-specific statutes, there are also no legal frameworks in place to prevent prosecutions under general criminal codes in these states, leaving people vulnerable to being criminalized simply because of their HIV status. 

It’s time to enact commonsense policy recommendations to reduce the harmful consequences of such laws. It’s time to modernize or repeal HIV criminalization laws.

For more information on the history of HIV criminalization, see here. Additionally, if you or someone you know is currently being charged with an HIV-related offense, please contact the Legal Help Desk at Lambda Legal by calling (866) 542-8336 or through this form. 

Calling all elected officials! Join Open to All!

The Open to All coalition continues to grow!

Today, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Open to All announced the expansion of the  nationwide Open to All effort with the new Local Electeds Against Discrimination (LEAD) taskforce.

Fifteen lawmakers from around the country, including Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland and Mayor Catherine Pugh of Baltimore, have joined Comptroller Stringer in supporting Open to All. This taskforce builds on their early leadership with the goal of reaching elected officials in all fifty states.

Comptroller Stringer’s taskforce, Local Electeds Against Discrimination (LEAD) is a national network of elected leaders who support Open to All and are also taking a stand for nondiscrimination protections in their cities and states. The LEAD taskforce brings together local elected officials from across the country to share model nondiscrimination policies, strategies for encouraging businesses to pledge to be Open to All, and ideas for bringing together local communities to oppose discrimination.

By signing the Open to All Elected Officials Pledge and joining the LEAD Taskforce, lawmakers agree to:

  • Take a stand for nondiscrimination in their city or state and work to create a welcoming and safe environment for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion or disability.
  • Oppose discrimination against individuals or denial of goods or services based on any of these characteristics, and to work to ensure businesses provide all goods and services to everyone on the same terms.

Once they sign the pledge, Open to All is asking elected officials to take action by engaging businesses in their communities and inviting them to sign the Open to All Business pledge. They are also encouraged to come together with municipal elected officials from across the country to share ideas, best practices, and strategies for creating nondiscrimination policies and practices in local communities and/or contribute feedback and input into the development of model policies as a member of the LEAD taskforce.

How can you help?

Everything You Need for Transgender Awareness Week

November 12-19 is Transgender Awareness Week, and MAP has the resources your need to reach out to your friends, family, neighbors and colleagues about why you support equality for transgender people.

Despite rising visibility, unprecedented advocacy, and evolving public opinion, stigma, discrimination and even violence are still major threats, particularly for transgender women, transgender people of color, and low-income transgender people.

And this administration is doubling down on attacks on transgender protections. Last month, The New York Times reported that the Trump Administration is preparing to redefine the term “sex” for the purposes of several federal agencies.

This radical redefinition is out of step with science, medicine and the law—and it is intended to not only to eliminate protections for transgender and intersex people, but to stop recognizing transgender and intersex people all together. This would create even more barriers to accessing the resources, protections and care transgender people need to thrive.

That’s why Transgender Awareness Week is such an important opportunity to advance understanding of transgender people, and MAP has the resources to get you started.


Getting to Know Transgender People

Transgender People and Public Accommodations

Transgender Students

Transgender People and Health Care

Open Enrollment Is Back! #GetCovered #EnrollbyDec15

Open enrollment, or the time of the year that millions of Americans can enroll in health insurance plans for the coming year, has begun! Open enrollment runs from November 1 to December 15, so NOW is the time to sign up and to encourage anyone who needs health insurance to sign up for coverage for 2019.

This cannot be overstated: health insurance is critically important to the LGBT community. Health insurance means LGBT people can get the health care they need, from transgender-related care and life-saving HIV drugs, to HIV prevention like PrEP and other routine medical care.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare”), the number of low- and middle-income LGBT people with health insurance rose from 66% in 2013 to 78% in 2017. And despite efforts by the Trump Administration and members of Congress to repeal it or to gut its key provisions, the Affordable Care Act is still here and still providing crucial health care protections, access, and options to everyone.

According to Out2Enroll, the national campaign to empower LGBT individuals and communities to get access to health care, there are more insurers than before, which means prices have stabilized, and according to data released by the Center for Medicaid and Medicaid Services, four in five people who purchased insurance through received financial help to lower their premiums, and many are playing less than they have in past years. In fact, many people can find health insurance for under $75/month.

Importantly, all LGBT people are still protected against discrimination in health insurance and health care. In other words, the nondiscrimination protections in the Affordable Care Act remain. This means that any healthcare provider, clinic, hospital, or insurer must treat all people fairly and cannot discriminate based on someone’s gender identity or expression. The headlines may be confusing, and there is work to be done to protect these crucial provisions, but nothing has changed when it comes to health care. Everyone who needs health insurance should receive it, regardless of who they are.

Learn more in this graphic from Out2Enroll: