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Rep. Clarke likes the idea, ‘spirit’ of new bill on HIV criminalization

U.S. Congressman Hansen Clarke (D-Detroit) says the draft legislation being floated by California Rep. Barbara Lee “looks like a good bill.”

In an exclusive interview with Messenger, Clarke said that he needed to fully vet the legislation. “I like the spirit of it,” he said.

Clarke, a freshman who beat former Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick last November, said his interest in the legislation was two fold.

“HIV/AIDS is a public health crisis in metro Detroit,” Clarke said, echoing statements from progressive activist Van Jones. Jones in an interview with Michigan Messenger in June of last year said the HIV epidemic in Detroit required “federal resources.”

The second issue to address with the legislation, Clarke said, was stigma.

“We’ve got to address the stigma of this disease,” he said. “It’s the stigma on people that is causing this to continue. This bill at least addresses the laws.”

Clarke said he had spoken with African American gay leaders in Detroit who told him gay men were afraid to disclose their HIV-positive status because of the stigma of both the viral infection and being gay. “That concerns me,” he said.

In addition, Clarke renewed calls for people to get tested for the virus. “People are waiting to long to get tested,” he said.

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