On Saturday, Just the News posted an article about the Department of Justice interfering with Tennessee’s right to control prostitution in its state.
The article reports:
Tennessee’s enforcement of its aggravated prostitution law against people living with HIV violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday, warning that continued enforcement could result in a federal lawsuit.
The Justice Department said the state, including the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office violated the ADA, the landmark 1990 federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Tennessee’s Attorney General could not immediately be reached for comment after hours on Friday.
HIV is not a disability–it is a disease generally sexually transmitted that could potentially endanger anyone engaging in sexual activity with someone who has it.
The article notes:
The Justice Department’s investigation found that the state and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office “subject people living with HIV to harsher criminal penalties solely because of their HIV status, violating Title II of the ADA.” Tennessee is the only state in the U.S. that requires lifetime registration as a violent sex offender if convicted of aggravated prostitution, regardless of whether the person knew they could transmit the disease.
People with HIV who engage in prostitution put other people at risk. I realize that scientific advances have lessened the risk, but there is still a risk. It’s that simple. What other diseases are considered disabilities? It is a disease and needs to be treated as a disease–not given special privileges.
The article concludes:
The Justice Department said the state must stop enforcing the aggravated prostitution law, including the sex offender registration requirements triggered by aggravated prostitution convictions. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation must take people convicted of aggravated prostitution off of the state’s Sex Offender Registry. It also listed other actions for both the state and TBI to fix the problem.
“We hope to work cooperatively with the State and the SCDAG to resolve the Department’s findings. If either the SCDAG or the State declines to enter into negotiations, or if our negotiations do not succeed, the United States may take appropriate action, including initiating a lawsuit,” the letter said.
The Friday announcement coincided with World AIDS Day, an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic. Untreated HIV can lead to AIDS.