The HIV/AIDS epidemic is one of the greatest public health crises of the past three decades and has resulted in significant legislation and public policy geared toward both infected and affected communities. Recent medial developments, better understandings of HIV transmission, and diminishing stigma have put pressure on laws enacted during the 1980s and 1990s to protect the privacy and autonomy of persons living with HIV/AIDS. As a result “AIDS exceptionalism” has given way to a new paradigm in which HIV-disease is treated like other sexually transmitted diseases and targeted with even more aggressive public health measures such as mandatory treatment, testing, and partner notification.
This course will explore the evolving legal and ethical landscape of the HIV/AIDS epidemic with a primary focus on the domestic and California law and policy, and the legal needs of people living with HIV-disease in Los Angeles County. The course will also examine the relationship between individual rights and public health and the ways in which race, class, gender, and sexual orientation continue to impact the response to the epidemic. Topics covered include HIV testing, confidentiality, and reporting; mandatory and voluntary partner notification programs; criminalization of HIV transmission; mandated medical treatment including pre-exposure treatment; issues around at-home testing; access to health care and health insurance; reproductive rights; and anti-discrimination law. The course will consider how the law can either create, or be used to overcome, obstacles to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
Students will have the opportunity through their choice of a topic for a paper class presentation to build on this exploration and broaden the inquiry. The 20-page paper for this class satisfies the law school writing requirement.