This is one of those stories that just has me shaking my head.

While it’s true that AIDS no longer is an automatic death sentence, it’s still deadly. In 2014, the last year for which I could find data, 6,721 died directly from AIDS, and there are tens of thousands of new infections.

That’s why the Red Cross prohibits people with HIV from donating blood, and screens blood donations:


You should not give blood if you have AIDS or have ever had a positive HIV test, or if you have done something that puts you at risk for becoming infected with HIV.
You are at risk for getting infected if you:
  • have ever used needles to take any drugs, steroids, or anything not prescribed by your doctor
  • are a male who has had sexual contact with another male, in the last 12 months
  • have ever taken money, drugs or other payment for sex
  • have had sexual contact in the past 12 months with anyone described above

While screening donated blood helps, it’s also important that people who know they are infected not donate, because if infected blood never enters the blood donation system, that’s the best prevention.

It’s also important that people who know they are HIV infected not knowingly infect others through sexual contact.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, many states criminalized the knowing exposure of other to HIV:

An analysis by CDC and Department of Justice researchers found that, by 2011, a total of 67 laws explicitly focused on persons living with HIV had been enacted in 33 states.3 These laws vary as to what behaviors are criminalized or result in additional penalties. In 24 states, laws require persons who are aware that they have HIV to disclose their status to sexual partners and 14 states require disclosure to needle-sharing partners. Twenty-five states criminalize one or more behaviors that pose a low or negligible risk for HIV transmission.

The majority of laws identified for the analysis were passed before studies showed that antiretroviral therapy (ART) reduces HIV transmission risk and most do not account for HIV prevention measures that reduce transmission risk, such as condom use, ART, or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The analysis encouraged states with HIV-specific criminal laws to use its findings to re-examine state laws, assess the laws’ alignment with current evidence regarding HIV transmission risk, and consider whether the laws are the best vehicle by which to achieve their intended purposes.

It should be noted that all states have general criminal laws—such as assault and battery, reckless endangerment, and attempted murder—that can and have been used to prosecute individuals for any of the above-mentioned behaviors.

California made it a felony to KNOWINGLY expose someone to HIV or KNOWINGLY concealing HIV infection when donating blood. But not anymore.

In March 2017, a bill was introduced to lower the criminal categorization:

Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener has proposed Senate Bill 239 to repeal the laws, saying they do not reflect current HIV medical practices, and have not helped stop the spread of HIV and AIDS.

“We’re very serious about this reform, and moving away from this criminalization model around HIV and going to a more public health approach,” Wiener said. “Fundamentally, HIV is a public health problem, not a criminal justice problem, and it needs to be treated this way.”

California law says it’s a felony for an HIV-positive person to have unprotected sex without informing their partner that they are infected. It is also a felony for HIV-positive people to donate blood, body organs or other tissue. Those convicted can spend up to seven years in prison if found guilty. Another law upgrades a misdemeanor for prostitution to a felony if the person charged has HIV or AIDS.

Knowingly transmitting other communicable diseases, including other sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes and hepatitis, are charged as misdemeanors under California state law. Wiener’s bill would put HIV and AIDS in the same category.

Governor Jerry Brown just signed the bill into law. The L.A. Times reports, Knowingly exposing others to HIV will no longer be a felony in California:

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Friday that lowers from a felony to a misdemeanor the crime of knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV without disclosing the infection.

The measure also applies to those who give blood without telling the blood bank that they are HIV-positive.

Modern medicine allows those with HIV to live longer lives and nearly eliminates the possibility of transmission, according to state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), authors of the bill.

“Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals,” Wiener said in a statement. “HIV should be treated like all other serious infectious diseases, and that’s what SB 239 does.”

Supporters of the change said the current law requires an intent to transmit HIV to justify a felony, but others noted cases have been prosecuted where there was no physical contact, so there was an argument intent was lacking.

State Senator Weiner is quite happy with this achievement.

The internet is not quite as happy.

Twitchy pointed to this NY Post article about an infected man who deliberately exposes others:

Other reactions, including mine:

[Featured Image: CBS News]


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