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Maryland Bill Proposes to Make HIV Transmission "Attempt" a Felony; State Senator Speaks

January 18, 2012

Another day, another HIV criminalization story.

According to The Daily Times, a Maryland state senator has proposed a new bill that would make "knowingly transferring or attempting to transfer HIV to another individual" a felony in his state, increasing its maximum prison term from three years to 25 years.

The Daily Times reported:

The bill does not have any co-sponsors in the senate and has not been cross filed with any house legislation. It has gone through a first reading; however no hearing date has yet been scheduled.

TheBody.com spoke to Stone on Jan. 16 to talk about why and how this bill came about. He said, "Someone suggested it to us, and we thought it was a good idea." He added, "The risk of knowingly doing something like this ... it's not like giving someone a cold."

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Surprised,makay (Brighton Uk) Fri., Jan. 27, 2012 at 8:04 am EST
This criminalisation issue seem to be applicable only to certain classes of people especially if they 'race cross'.I have seen some responsible autorities strippling on top of each other to make a case yet nobody even consider it as a criminal thing if the race,crossing is vice versa, surpringly enough. Others that seem so obvious are ignored as long as the person is not of the doomed class of people despite the fact that it is still wrong and very criminal as the victims are young people who have so much ahead of them. THis is how things are getting to me as I see it.
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Comment by: vanessa w (chicago) Thu., Jan. 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm EST
i understand it may be difficult to prove the intent of an hiv+ person who has unprotected sex and,true each sexually active person needs to be responsible and protect themselves as there are inherent risks to having sex with protection. However, when and if a person who KNOWS they have hiv or aids has sex without protection or without disclosing the fact (or possibility) that they have this disease should be prosecuted and sued!! This may not stop it from happening but maybe it will give some pause to be a little more responsible, this is not a joke and no one deserves for someone to carelessly or deliberatley infect them just because they are infected and now they live by the creed of "oh well, someone gave it to me"
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Comment by: John (Texas) Thu., Jan. 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm EST
So how about this scenario: I have sex with someone and did inform them I was poz. We used appropriate protection.
A week later, the same person has unprotected sex with someone that did not disclose their status and the person become infected.
Because that person knew that I was poz and can pinpoint the approximate time of the transmission, all they have to do, either out of anger, spite or excuse towards others, say that I infected them.
At this point, it becomes a he said/he said scenario but I am still now a "suspect" in a crime based on this law. And if the person can prove we had sex, how am I to prove we used protection or that I informed them?
Are we now going to be required to have our sex partners sign consent forms as well???
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Comment by: Jeromy (Dayton, OH) Sat., Jan. 21, 2012 at 11:07 am EST
coming from a person living with hiv, sitting on-line in the hiv on-line communities, the amounts of people I see every hour of everyday activly seeking people to infect with hiv AKA "stealthing". I strongly support what this senator is doing. Perhaps our infection rates would plumet and make some of these sick in the head individuals think twice before not telling people they're positive before infecting them. Of course I recognize the possible adverse affects of this. But the way I look at it is, HIV does not define me, this is a bill to help protect people, how can it be all that bad?
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Comment by: JohnS. (Atlanta, GA) Fri., Jan. 20, 2012 at 11:54 pm EST
I can see how this law would only drive down disclosures of HIV status, while increasing the spread of HIV.
These laws only WORSEN the problem.
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Comment by: Marc Paige (Fort Lauderdale) Fri., Jan. 20, 2012 at 10:42 am EST
If two people consent to have sex without a condom, there is no crime if HIV is passed. If an HIV positive person RAPES another person, then I believe "attempted murder" charges are appropriate.
Rape is the only time that HIV should enter into the discussion of punishment. If the sex is between consenting adults, there are inherent risks. The risks can be greatly reduced with condoms, but there is no crime if STD's are passed during consensual sex.
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Comment by: Brian (Gainsville, FL) Thu., Jan. 19, 2012 at 10:59 pm EST
How will they prove that the virus (in case of infection) came effectively from the HIV+ accused person. Is it not possible that the person who is denouncing or suing, has bad intentions and is lying about not knowing the condition of the HIV+ person. May be after the rupture of a relationship or to get money, I do not know. My advise is then NEVER EVER test yourself for HIV because if you are positive, you almost immediately are a criminal, because everything can be set up so that you can be accused of attempting to infect others, specially if those others take advantage of that condition. As long as it is only the "attempt", they (people with bad intentions who sue to HIV+ people) do not have anymore to go and look for the virus anywhere else and infect themselves to come then and sue you for money or something, arguing that this specific positive person did infect them (or did attempt to infect them). Some HIV possitive people realized their condition because they were obedient with campaigns and test themself and know their possitive status and then, almost immediately, they are guity criminals, with the only prove of a unfounded accusation
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Comment by: AlarmedGuy (Columbia) Thu., Jan. 19, 2012 at 10:22 pm EST
Well this means the it is better not knowing your HIV-status. Because if knowing that will make you guilty of whatever people want to blame you (because for having the diagnosed you are by default the lier, or the evil person in fact), so whatever the other people want to say you did, even if they knew about your status and even if you and the other person consent the relationship, the can say then they did not know they believe them. If does not matter that they are not infected or if they got it from other people. MY ADVISE FOR EVERYBODY IS NEVER EVER TEST YOURSELF FOR HIV. IF YOU ARE POSITIVE ALMOST IMMEDIATELY YOU ARE A CRIMINAL.
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Comment by: David (las vegas NV) Thu., Jan. 19, 2012 at 6:42 pm EST
I agree that there should be a penalty for knowingly transmitting HIV to another person. If we are to EVER get rid of this disgusting Virus then it will take moral/personal responsibility to stop the spread. and if you can't or won't stop to think about it then someone has to do it for you!
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Comment by: Alana (New York, Ny) Thu., Jan. 19, 2012 at 3:33 pm EST
I hope that this bill is enacted, it would be very beneficial!!! This should become a FEDERAL law as well!
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Comment by: Layne Kinney (Atlanta,GA) Thu., Jan. 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm EST
Well what about the other nasty STD’s out there? Are they prosecuting those that infect their partners with Herpes, Gonorrhea, etc.? How about responsibility is any one questioning the responsibility of the partner that is HIV negative. The old adage it takes 2 to tango applies wouldn’t you think. Our law makers think they can outlaw something and problem solved! I say bull!!!! Last time I checked Prostitution was outlawed has that stopped? NO! Marijuana, use NO that hasn’t stopped I could go on and on!
We need to elect lawmakers that have some common sense and a smidgen of intelligence I say!
There’s my 2 cents for the moment.
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Comment by: Seer Clearly (San Jose, CA) Thu., Jan. 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm EST
I don't have a problem with holding people responsible for their actions. Infecting someone with intent to harm should be the gold standard for legal prosecution. Unfortunately, this is even more difficult to prove than "knowingly" infecting someone.

Given that the latest research shows that HIV positive men on medication with undetectable viral loads have not passed the virus on to their partners, making "knowing" infection a crime intrudes upon right of partners of HIV positive people to make their own decisions. With the statistical likelihood of various methods of infection not being known exactly, attempting to place a definition on "knowingly" clearly is not possible.

This law is simply a bad law, because it is not clear, and it ignores science. As such it's more as you point about about demonization than it is about medical science or civil rights.
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