Breaking News: Historic HIV bill passes unanimously in Iowa Senate

Today, Senator Rob Hogg’s bill Senate File 2297 (SF2297) passed the Iowa Senate unanimously with bipartisan support and now moves to the House. The proposed bill would reform and modernize Iowa’s discriminatory 709c law, legislation based on outdated science and beliefs that actually discourages testing and disclosure because of the severe penalties associated with simply knowing one’s status. SF2297 would change the law so that it is no longer HIV specific, and converts sentencing into a tiered system instead of the “one size fits all” approach used by the current law. The bill unanimously passed out of Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

The proposed changes to the law are supported by One Iowa, the state’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization, and Community HIV/Hepatitis Advocates of Iowa Network (CHAIN), an organization that has spent the last 5 years trying to reform Iowa’s HIV law. Iowa currently has one of the harshest laws in the nation that targets people living with HIV and AIDS.

“This is a historic move by the Iowa Senate,” says Tami Haught, Community Organizer with CHAIN. “We commend Senator Hogg for his tireless efforts to push this important bill forward. Further, we would like to thank Senators Matt McCoy, Charles Schneider and Steve Sodders for working with Senator Hogg and community members to bring public attention to this issue. We hope we can count on continued bipartisan support as the bill moves to the House floor, and we will continue working alongside One Iowa to educate legislators on both sides of the aisle. The proposed changes in Senate File 2297 are a step in the right direction. This is a victory not only for Iowa, but also for Iowans living with HIV and AIDS.

“Our work is far from over, however,” Haught adds. “We need continuing education in the public sphere about the realities of those living with HIV, to dispel the harmful stigma and misinformation often associated with this disease. We have come a long way in the treatment and care for people living with HIV, and it’s time for our laws to reflect that progress.”

“We believe this is a bipartisan issue and we are pleased to see our policy makers taking the right action,” says One Iowa Executive Director Donna Red Wing. “This important move forward will have a profound impact on the lives of Iowans living with HIV and AIDS. We applaud CHAIN’s efforts, and especially the work of Community Organizer Tami Haught. None of this would have been possible without her passion and perseverance, but more importantly her willingness to share her story with legislators and community members. She is one of the many unsung heroes of this movement.”

To schedule interviews with representatives from CHAIN or One Iowa, contact One Iowa Communications Director Matty Smith at 701.320.1599 or [email protected]