ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The ACLU of Illinois is announcing that Gov. JB Pritzker signed H.B. 1063 into law on Tuesday, which immediately ends criminal penalties for people living with HIV.

A press release says Illinois is the second state in the U.S. to pass this kind of law, and Texas was the first.

“Previously, people living with HIV in Illinois faced the threat of arrest, prosecution, and incarceration even if they did not transmit HIV to another person,” says the release. The ACLU adds people living with HIV often faced longer sentences just because of their HIV status.  

“The criminalization of HIV has harmed communities in our home state for decades,” says the Illinois HIV Action Alliance. “It has done nothing other than spread fear and stigma, and it discouraged people from getting tested or knowing their status. This legislation was passed to bring an end to these harms and modernize how we approach this public health issue. We are very relieved to see this destructive law has finally been stricken from the books.”

“Illinois’ HIV criminalization law was rooted in fear and racial biases. It was used to abuse people in our state, targeting people living with HIV and disproportionately affecting LGBTQ+ people, women, and Black and Brown communities,” says State Sen. Robert Peters, lead Senate sponsor.

In a press release, Peters says the new law repeals the portion of the criminal code that allowed prosecutors to charge people living with HIV with a Class 2 felony for having consensual sex, sharing needles, or donating bodily fluids, tissues or organs.

The state senator adds HIV was the only communicable disease for which people could face criminal liability.

“Not a single study throughout the country shows HIV criminalization has reduced HIV transmission in any jurisdiction where it exists. It was far past time to get rid of this harmful law, and we thank Governor Pritzker for repealing it once and for all,” says State Rep. Carol Ammons, lead House sponsor.

“The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation salutes Governor Pritzker for signing HB 1063, a monumental bill that will greatly improve the lives of people living with HIV in the state of Illinois” says Catherine Brown, Executive Director, The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

“We congratulate the Illinois HIV Action Alliance and AIDS Foundation Chicago for their tireless work and ambition to fully repeal the state’s HIV criminal code. Following the legacy of our founder, Elizabeth Taylor, we support HB 1063 and stand with all organizations who are committed to reforming unjust HIV legislation nationwide. We remain grateful for the success in Illinois and for the opportunity to support these incredible organizations and community members.”

“House Bill 1063 ends criminal penalties against PLWH by amending the Criminal Code of 2012, repealing the statute creating the offense of criminal transmission of HIV, and makes conforming changes in the AIDS Confidentiality Act, the Illinois Sexually Transmissible Disease Control Act, the Illinois Vehicle Code, the Criminal Code of 2012, and the Unified Code of Corrections,” says the ACLU of Illinois.