Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has signed four bills into law this week, two of which relate to HIV and AIDS. Those bills include the modernization of its HIV crime laws and an expansion of access to HIV prevention medication.
Sisolak signed the new bills on Sunday while at the Henderson Pride Fest, local media reported. The event celebrated the post-pandemic reopening of the Henderson Equality Center, a local organization supporting LGBTQ+ people. Free HIV testing and COVID-19 vaccines were available for those attending.
Two bills Sisolak signed related specifically to HIV and included one to allow pharmacists to provide HIV care even without a prescription from a doctor. This would mean that both PrEP and PEP could be available at local pharmacies.
The other bill repeals a Nevada policy making it a felony for someone who lives with HIV to “intentionally, knowingly, or willfully” engage in actions that could transmit the virus, making it a misdemeanor like other communicable diseases. The law also changes incorrect references to HIV and AIDS.
It also, according to the governor, will reestablish the state’s Advisory Task Force on HIV Exposure Modernization.
“Nevada is known as a warm and welcoming place for all – in our state, we celebrate our diversity,” Sisolak said in a press release. “I am so grateful to sign legislation to ensure that our LGBTQ+ community feels safe, protected, and can continue to grow and flourish in the Silver State.”
He added: “We know that laws that criminalize people living with HIV don’t stop the spread, but they actually hurt our public health efforts.”
The state director of Nevada LGBTQ+ rights organization Silver State Equality, André C. Wade, said the state now recognizes HIV as a public health concern, not a criminal issue.
“With his signature, Governor Sisolak has moved Nevada HIV laws into the 21st century by aligning them with modern science, ultimately helping to reduce stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV,” he said.
“When people are no longer penalized for knowing their status, it encourages them to come forward, get tested and get treatment. That’s good for all Nevadans.”
The other bills Sisolak signed on Sunday included a bill to have local governments collect information on sexual orientation and gender identity as they already do on race and ethnicity. Another was a bill that ensured LGBTQ-owned businesses have the same access to loans and financial services as other minority-owned businesses currently have.