Pennsylvania’s HB 103 Is Irresponsible and Discriminatory

Advocates for Youth is deeply disturbed by the recent passage of Pennsylvania’s new law, House Bill 103. 

This bill seeks to protect police officers by creating two new, unnecessary felony offenses and subjects people with communicable diseases, such as HIV, all forms of hepatitis, influenza, chickenpox, and COVID-19 to harsher penalties under the law. 

The use of criminal law to address public health concerns is stigmatizing, discriminatory, and ultimately deeply rooted in racial biases. 

The consequences of this law will be severe. We are concerned for the young people who partner with us to end HIV criminalization in Pennsylvania – many of whom exist at the intersections of being Black, Indigneous and People of Color, queer and trans people, and people living with HIV. 

“As a person living with HIV who was born and raised in Pennsylvania, the passing of HB 103 serves as a reminder that as we get closer to ending the HIV epidemic, we have a long way to go to end HIV stigma and the criminalization of people living with HIV,”  said Louie Ortiz-Fonseca, Director, LGBTQ Health & Rights

All young people deserve dignity, opportunity, and a state that does not see them, or their health status, as a threat. These youth already face legal and cultural discrimination, and too often, are unable to access the care they need to stay healthy. We have a responsibility to make sure every young person living with HIV is cared for and valued. HIV criminalization laws such as HB 103 do nothing to affirm the dignity of young people.