The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that practically every American adult has feared contracting at some point or another. One could even say that people growing up in the 1980’s and after were taught to always use protection, for fear of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Particularly HIV, which can lead to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
It could also be said that a number of forces collided at the onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic which cast the potentially deadly condition into a different light than that of other STDs. If you were a teenager or adult in the ‘80’s and early 1990’s, then you can probably remember the falsehoods being spread about HIV. One that led to several stereotypes, rooted in fear, not fact. Resulting in legislation being passed in certain states that made it a felony to not disclose knowledge of a person’s illness to a sexual partner. Yes, that’s right: People who fail to tell their partner(s) about it, can land them in jail. No other blood-borne pathogens carry the risk of jail time for failing to disclose.
HIV: From Felony to Misdemeanor
Last week, California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation changing the punishment for the crime of knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV/AIDS, The Los Angeles Times reports. One of the reasons for the alteration is modern medicine, according to the bills authors. Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) point out that people with HIV live longer lives and the use of medication nearly eliminates the possibility of disease transmission.
“Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals,” said Wiener. “HIV should be treated like all other serious infectious diseases, and that’s what SB 239 does.”
SB 239 applies to HIV-positives who donate blood without disclosing knowledge of their condition, the article reports. Sen. Wiener argues that the risk of felony had lead some people to not get tested for the virus. Reasoning that not getting tested would protect them from being charged with a felony after exposing someone else. Thus, reducing the designation of the crime is in the interest of public safety.
“We are going to end new HIV infections, and we will do so not by threatening people with state prison time, but rather by getting people to test and providing them access to care,” Wiener said.
Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with a committing crime, please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower. With over 30 years of experience, attorney Browser can help you or a loved one achieve the best possible outcomes.