HIV criminalization bill to be voted on in House today

Posted on 26 May 2015 at 10:21am

Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, left, and Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, right.

A bill that would use a crime suspect’s HIV status against them if they knowingly infected the victim will be voted on the House floor today.

SB 779 by Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, passed a key hurdle on Sunday, May 24, to some advocates’ surprise.

The bill passed in the Senate despite witness testimony against it earlier this month but was considered dead without a House companion. The House voted to suspend the rules and swiftly passed it in committee. Should it be voted on the House floor today, advocates concede it will pass.

Texas would join 37 other states with laws using a defendant’s HIV status against them – laws that opponents say criminalize HIV.

SB 779 was filed at the recommendation of the Brazoria County District Attorney’s office. Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, who represents the area, is the House sponsor.

The bill was one of four HIV criminalization bills introduced this session, which has seen mixed results for advocates of those living with HIV and AIDS. Rep. Stuart Spitzer, R-Kaufman, successfully moved HIV prevention and testing funding to funding for abstinence but it was later restored.

The legislative session ends Monday, June 1.

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