HIV Is Not a Crime V National Training Academy Comes to Virginia in 2023

The HIV Is Not a Crime V National Training Academy (HINAC V) will be held June 4-7, 2023, at Emory & Henry College, which has a long history of engagement in social justice issues. Every two years, the conference convenes people living with HIV, HIV policy leaders, and other stakeholders (mostly U.S.-based) to educate and train “advocates to mobilize to end HIV criminalization, support PLHIV empowerment, and facilitate intersectional coalition building,” according to a prepared release. “HINAC particularly focuses on uplifting the work of PLHIV and PLHIV networks, and grassroots activists and networks engaged in racial, social, economic and gender justice movements.” The upcoming conference in Emory, Virginia, is organized by The SERO Project, in partnership with Positive Women’s Network–USA, Positively Trans, THRIVE SS, and US PLHIV Caucus.

Deirdre Johnson [A&U, February 2021], a Virginia-based advocate and cofounder of Ending Criminalization and Over-incarceration in Virginia (ECHO VA) , noted “I am excited to celebrate with the other states that have either reformed or modernized their HIV criminalization laws and provide encouragement to those that are in the midst of coalition building, drafting bills and creating change. What I am honestly looking forward to is the HIV criminalization community having the opportunity to experience the beauty of Virginia for HINAC V at Emory and Henry College! I am always screaming our state tourism motto, ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ and now the HIV criminalization community will get to witness first hand our passion for setting the standard of creating change, our Southern hospitality, and Viginia LOVE.”

With the help of activists, Virigina recently reformed the laws that criminalized non-disclosure of positive serostatus by people living with HIV to sexual partners, a law by which Andre Leaphart was prosecuted in 2017. The Justice Counsel Member of Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF) and Executive Director of Access Restoration Community Center (ARCC) explained the necessity of HIV decriminalization: “HIV criminalization punishes individuals who have chronic health conditions. HIV criminalization also unjustly stigmatizes and disproportionately targets vulnerable populations with poor social determinants such as people of color. Modernization of HIV laws is not just an issue for those impacted by HIV, but it is also a human rights issue.”

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