Criminalization of disease brought to light

Trevor Hoppe visited Sonoma State University on Monday, April 15, to speak for the Queer Studies Lecture Series, put on by the Women’s and Gender Studies department every Monday. 

Hoppe’s early college education began with earning his bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  After graduating, he moved on to earning his Master of Arts at San Francisco State University in sexuality studies.  In 2011, Hoppe earned his master’s of public health degree in health behavior and health education at the University of Michigan.  

Trevor Hoppe gained his PhD in Sociology and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan as well in 2014, where he began his research for his award winning book, “Punishing Disease: HIV and the Criminalization of Sickness.”

COURTESY // Trevor Hoppe   Queer Studies Lecture speaker Trevor Hoppe.

COURTESY // Trevor Hoppe

Queer Studies Lecture speaker Trevor Hoppe.

Hoppe discussed his research in the book during the lecture series as well as exploring how “HIV was transformed from sickness to badness under the criminal law and investigates the consequences of inflicting penalties on people living with disease.”  

Hoppe’s award winning book analyzes the rise of punitive and coercive responses to HIV.  The book is a culmination of seven years of research than began during his doctoral studies at the University of Michigan.

“The big idea is that the criminal law is not an appropriate or effective tool to use to control a medical problem like infectious disease.  During the AIDS panic of the 1980’s, many states passed poorly worded and overly broad criminal statutes that made it possible to punish people living with HIV for a variety of behaviors,” said Hoppe.  

This was Hoppe’s sixteenth campus lecture and overall his twenty-third public talk about his book.  His lecture brought light to the criminalization and mistreatment of those with HIV.  

“I think the national conversation on the war on drugs has attuned students to the fact that the criminal law isn’t always an effective solution to social problems.  In the case of HIV criminalization, we have a similar story that deserves a similar social and political response. Fear, stigma, and countless ruined lives--for what?” Hoppe said.