Law 675 - HIV/AIDS Law and Public Policy

Robert Bradley Sears

Robert Bradley Sears

Associate Dean of Public Interest Law
David Sanders Distinguished Scholar of Law & Policy, The Williams Institute
Interim Executive Director, The Williams Institute
B.A. Yale, 1992
J.D. Harvard, 1995
UCLA Faculty Since 2000
Course Description:

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is one of the greatest public health crises of the past four decades and has resulted in significant legislation and public policy geared toward both infected and affected communities.   This course will explore the evolving legal and ethical landscape of the HIV/AIDS epidemic with a primary focus on U.S. and California HIV law and policy, and the legal needs of people living with HIV in Los Angeles County.  The course will consider how the law can either create, or be used to overcome, obstacles to HIV prevention and treatment.  The course will also consider how recent significant advances in treatment and prevention have put pressure on laws enacted during the 1980s and 1990s to protect the privacy and autonomy of persons living with HIV/AIDS, and how those advances have impacted the HIV/AIDS social movement. 

The course will examine the relationship between individual rights and public health and the ways in which race, class, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation continue to impact the response to the epidemic.  In particular, the course will consider one of the communities at the intersection of these identities that has been impacted the most by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the transgender community.  The course will also consider the criminalization of people living with HIV; continuing discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS in employment and health care; and current federal funding allocations and restrictions for HIV care and services, domestically and internationally.  Other topics covered will include: HIV testing, confidentiality, and reporting; mandatory and voluntary partner notification programs; access to medical treatment including pre/post-exposure prophylaxis; access to health care and health insurance; and the reproductive rights of people living with HIV/AIDS.  

During the course, students will have the opportunity to choose a topic for inquiry, conduct an in-class presentation, and draft a 20-page paper.  This paper may satisfy the law school writing requirement.  Students in the course are encouraged to work on their class paper or project in conjunction with an organization working on HIV/AIDS Law issues.

Course Learning Outcomes:

At the end of this course, students should be able to:

HIV Law and Policy
• Understand current major issues in HIV Law and Policy in the U.S.

Intersectional Approach
• Understand why HIV/AIDS  disproportionately impacts certain groups, including gay men, trans people, people of color, women, recent immigrants, sex workers, and IVDUs
• Explore why HIV follows intersecting lines of marginalization, including race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and class

Interdisciplinary Approach
• Understand HIV disease from medical, public health, demographic, and social movement perspectives
• Integrate these perspectives into a current understanding of HIV law and policy

Legislative Lawyering:
• Understand the process of passing legislation at the state and federal level
• Complete written assignments focused on HIV-related legislation in California or other states

Problem Solving and Advocacy
• Complete a written project that requires problem solving on a real HIV-related law or policy issue utilizing knowledge learned throughout the course