‘HIV POZ’ gets OK for Calif. license plate

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Julien Pierre fought the California DMV and, surprisingly, won.

The HIV-positive software engineer will soon have the vanity plate he wanted — “HIV POZ” — for his Toyota Prius after pushing the issue with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which initially rejected the request last June.

“HIV POZ” was initially turned down by the Department of Motor Vehicles as inappropriate, but after further consideration the decision was reversed, allowing Julien Pierre to have the license plate.

“‘HIV POZ’ would be no different if you say something about a heart or a lung; it was not an offensive configuration,” DMV spokesman Mike Marando said.

The issue has surfaced before in California.

In 1998, a federal judge ruled that the DMV violated Kevin Dimmick’s free speech rights by refusing to issue him personalized plates reading “HIV POS” for his motorcycle, reports the Mercury News.

“I don’t think it’s something you need to hide from or be ashamed of. I wanted to show people I’m not hiding from it,” Pierre said.

Watch a video report on the story from CBS5.com.

imageIn Georgia, an effort to sell an AIDS awareness license plate stalled after the General Assembly approved it in 2006.

More than two years after the Georgia General Assembly approved a license plate aimed at increasing AIDS awareness and raising funds for AIDS Survival Project, it has yet to hit Georgia’s streets.

“It has taken forever to get through the system,” said Melanie Sovine, executive director of AIDS Survival Project. “It has become one delay, and one sort of impossible barrier after another.”

The Georgia Department of Revenue is mishandling virtually all specialty fundraising tags by not posting images of the license plates on its website for customers to see, Sovine said.

Time is running out for the AIDS Survival Project license, which has until the end of the year to attract 1,000 buyers.

“There’s nothing compelling for anyone to see there,” Sovine says of the Department of Revenue’s website for specialty license plates. The site at one time listed the types of specialty plates available, but is currently blank except for the statement: “This page is temporarily unavailable. Sorry for any inconvenience.”

Passed by the General Assembly during the 2006 legislative session, the AIDS Survival Project license plate must attract 1,000 drivers to pay a $25 manufacturing fee before the plates are produced. About 10 percent of the proceeds from each license plate would go to AIDS Survival Project, but the tag is a long way from crossing the 1,000-order threshold.


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