Public Policy Advocacy

HIV Law Project actively engages in public policy advocacy to challenge unfair laws and policies, and fosters remedial legislation. Our work is aimed at shifting public perception, shaping meaningful polices, and holding policymakers accountable to traditionally underrepresented HIV-affected populations.

Program Highlights

  • Expanding Definition of AIDS to Benefit Women and People of Color: Realizing that many entitlement programs made unfair use of the Centers for Disease Control’s narrow definition of illnesses that constitute an AIDS diagnosis, and that women, people of color, injection drug-users and low-income lesbians and gay men were being severely undercounted, HIV Law Project formed a coalition to lead the effort to expand the surveillance definition of AIDS to include illnesses typical to women and the majority of people of color infected with HIV. While numerous groups across the country had been trying to get the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to expand its AIDS definition, HIV Law Project was able to channel these efforts and to broker the change with the CDC. As a result of the CDC’s January 1993 expansion of its AIDS surveillance definition, thousands more women and people of color with HIV qualified for essential benefits and services.
  • Overcoming Barriers to Women’s Access to AIDS Clinical Trials. HIV Law Project secured a major advance in the struggle to overcome barriers to women’s participation in AIDS clinical trials, including achieving the adoption with the Federal Drug Administration’s regulation to eliminate barriers to women’s participation. In June 2000, the FDA published the final regulation amending the clinical hold provisions governing investigational new drug applications. The new amendment permits the FDA to place a “clinical hold” on one or more studies involving drugs intended to treat life-threatening diseases in men and women. The victory was achieved as a result of advocacy by the HIV Law Project and other HIV/AIDS activists, who challenged the automatic exclusion of childbearing age women from clinical drug trials because of a perceived or potential risk to a fetus.
  • Monitoring HIV Reporting and Partner Notification Trends. HIV Law Project was involved in a coalition to oppose New York State’s HIV names reporting and partner notification law. Once law, HIV Law Project fought to ensure public health officials to deferred partner notification in those cases where notification posed a significant risk of violence to the identified patient, until such time as the patient can remove him or herself from the threat of violence.
  • Preserving Right to Give Written, Informed Consent to HIV Testing. HIV Law Project has fought to preserve this right since 1996, when the proposal to first eliminate written consent first emerged. HIV Law Project has organized with other groups, provided testimony at public hearings, provided policy options for legislators, and continues to organize around this issue.
  • Preventing or Ameliorating Harsh Mandatory Testing Programs for Pregnant Women and/or Their Newborns. HIV Law Project works with partner organizations throughout the U.S. to prevent or ameliorate harsh testing policies for pregnant women. We share resources, assist with strategy, edit press releases and provide general guidance for advocacy at the grassroots level.
  • Advancing Comprehensive Sexuality Education. HIV Law Project partners with allied agencies to ensure that comprehensive sexuality education in NYC schools is appropriately implemented and monitored.
  • Preserving Funding. HIV Law Project works in coalition to ensure on-going Federal, state and local funding for HIV-related legal services for low-income people.