A bill that would decriminalize the transmission of HIV in Virginia cleared the Senate on Friday.

According to the Washington Blade, Senate Bill 1138 passed the chamber with a 21-17 vote.

The legislation was introduced by Democratic Senators Jennifer McClellan from Richmond and Mamie Locke from Hampton.

Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck said in a statement that such laws “are not effective public health strategies.”

“We are encouraged by SB 1138's progress through the Virginia Senate, and we are grateful for the leadership of Senator Locke and Senator McClellan,” Lamneck said.

“Existing criminalization laws are not effective public health strategies, and that's why this bill is so necessary,” they said.

More than thirty states have prosecuted HIV-positive people for possibly exposing another person to HIV. Virginia treats the transmission of HIV as a misdemeanor.

The CDC has found that such laws discourage HIV testing and are often unequally enforced.

The House of Delegates will consider the bill this week.