JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KFVS) - Two bills designed to modernize statues concerning HIV were filed in Jefferson City, Missouri on Wednesday, Dec. 11.
The two bills, HB 1691 and 1692, were filed by State Representatives Holly Rehder and Tracy McCeery.
If approved, both pieces of legislation would eliminate HIV-specific language in the statutes, instead replacing it with a broader “communicable diseases” category.
This is the third time the bills have been filed.
A similar bill is expected to be filed in the Missouri Senate in the near future.
According to Empower Missouri, a statewide not-for-profit advocate organization, Missouri and 30 other states need to update laws to reflect that HIV is a diagnosis and not a death sentence due to medical advances in treatment.
The organization is also concerned that the stigma of treating HIV as a crime is holding people back from getting tested, increases transmission of the illness and deaths.
Empower Missouri said another concern is that the Show-Me-State currently has statutes establishing felony level penalties if an HIV-positive person cannot prove that they disclosed their HIV status before engaging in sexual activity.
A number of coalition and advocate groups support the two measures. These include: MO HIV Justice Coalition, Spectrum Healthcare, Williams & Associates, Empower Missouri, Missouri Family Health Council, Inc., and MO HIV Justice Coalition Members.