HRC Joins Medical, HIV and LGBT Groups Challenging Missouri’s Criminal HIV Law

Maureen McCarty

Today, the Center for HIV Law and Policy, a national leader on HIV policy development, filed an amicus brief on behalf of Michael Johnson, a former Missouri college student sentenced to more than 30 years for allegedly violating Missouri’s HIV transmission and exposure statute.

HRC is proud to join a number of organizations, including the American Academy of HIV Medicine, Center for Constitutional Rights, Missouri AIDS Task Force and Empower Missouri, who have signed on to the brief.

In 2015, 23-year-old Michael Johnson was sentenced to 30 years in prison after being convicted of violating Missouri’s HIV transmission and exposure statute.  

“Laws criminalizing the behaviors with near-zero risk for HIV transmission and that fail to account for effective HIV prevention measures -- like condom use and PrEP -- are not just misguided, they are deadly,” said HRC Senior Legislative Counsel Robin Maril at the time of the sentencing.

Medical experts and advocates have continued to decry Johnson’s conviction, attributing it to a trial that was full of misinformation about HIV transmission and inaccurate stereotypes about men who have sex with men, as well as a justice system that tries, convicts and sentences Black men more harshly than other groups. (A nearly all white jury convicted Johnson after only two hours of deliberation.)

HRC is working with other advocates to support legislation across the country to modernize laws criminalizing HIV exposure, nondisclosure and transmission and to continue raising awareness about the importance of opposing such laws.


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