This project gallery represents the work of our network of creative activists including media produced by Creative Activist Program members, fiscal sponsees, and Creative Visions Productions. 

HIV Is Not a Crime

Sean Strub

HIV Is Not a Crime is a documentary about HIV criminalization, told through the voices and stories of people who have been subject to discriminatory prosecutions or heightened punishments because of their HIV+ status.

HIV Is Not a Crime addresses the human rights abuses inherent in creating a “viral underclass” in the law as well as how these statutes constitute a serious threat to public health.

When the government enshrines discrimination in the law–as it does with creation of different laws for people who have HIV than for those who do not–it is a most extreme manifestation of stigma. Stigma discourages people from getting tested, accessing treatment or disclosing their HIV status to partners. But because one cannot be prosecuted for failing to disclose one’s HIV status if one has not been tested, HIV criminalization has become a significant disincentive for those at risk to get tested for HIV. The word on the street is “Take the Test and Risk Arrest!” – a dangerous method when more than 20% of those with HIV in the U.S. have not been tested.

People with HIV who have been subjected to criminalization prosecutions have only rarely been heard from and are typically portrayed in the media as, at best, reckless and, at worst, monstrous. Most hold jobs, raise children, go to church, and are otherwise unremarkably different from others in society, except that they have HIV and were caught up in a profound injustice that often ruins their lives.

HIV Is Not a Crime brings their stories to light, raise awareness of the public health threats and human rights abuses created by HIV criminalization and help mobilize the advocacy necessary for reform.