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I Have HIV and Current Laws Say I Am a Criminal

A Video Blog

November 30, 2012

This video and text are excerpts from "Getting to Zero: The Final Piece of the Puzzle," a speech given by Aaron on Nov. 30, 2012, in St. Louis, Mo.

Aaron Laxton

Aaron Laxton

According to the current criminal statutes in Missouri I am considered a felon. It does not matter that I disclose my HIV status to another person, and it does not matter that I use protection. As stated in the law itself, these things are no defense. I am viewed as a criminal and as a threat to the common good of society, even though I am on medication and undetectable. ...

… This is not rhetoric and this is not a political statement but rather the reality that myself and each person that is living with HIV deals with. In the eyes of the law I am simply a diagnosis and considered a threat to society.

I am Aaron and I am a piece of the puzzle. This puzzle consists of loss, pain, tears and sadness but I am also a piece of the puzzle that is one of life. The reality today is that HIV no longer means eminent

Instead I use words such as happiness, hope, empowerment and neutrality. I am Aaron and HIV is just one piece of who I am.

Aaron Laxton is an avid video blogger and HIV activist living in St. Louis, Mo. He was diagnosed with HIV on June 6, 2011.

Read Aaron's blog, My HIV Journey.

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This article was provided by TheBody.
See Also
World AIDS Day 2012: Features and News

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Amandah M (Zimbabwe) Fri., Dec. 14, 2012 at 1:59 am UTC
The laws have put red labels on people living with HIV,"you are incompetent, under performer, not capable of performing other duties". they forget that they are people who are diabetic, hyper-hypo tensive and others are battling with cancer, we all belong to the same group of terminal illness patients who are managing their sicknesses. chill my brothers and sisters, have the will to live. I will live thats what i tell my self, you will also life and together we encourage each other.
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Comment by: denguyfl Thu., Dec. 13, 2012 at 3:01 pm UTC
@Another One: The problem is how exactly one proves disclosure. Signed form as The Sero Project suggests. That is dehumanizing (Sero even goes as far to say that) and exactly the wrong message we should be giving to people, either poz or neg. Please elaborate on your condom statement as non-consent is legally defined as rape, but its usage dramatically reduces the chance of transmission and has bearing on the intent question which is non-existent in every single on of these laws. The consent issue is rape and is against the law already.
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Comment by: Yohanna M. (Jos-Nigeria) Fri., Dec. 7, 2012 at 6:15 am UTC
This mail is aimed at encouraging you to live above any form of diagnosis. Moreso that your viral load is undetectable.Just feed well, work on your mind and adhere to all regulations as discussed with your nurse,counselor, physician and pharmacist and it shall be well.
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Comment by: Eileen D. (Minneapolis) Thu., Dec. 6, 2012 at 6:39 pm UTC
Thanks A.

kiss kiss
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Comment by: Jeffrey (Denver) Thu., Dec. 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm UTC
This post is incoherent and doesn't make any sense to me. It sounds like you want to be a victim. Try to empower yourself with some affirmative thinking.
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Comment by: Anonymous Thu., Dec. 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm UTC
I think you may be incorrect. It states in Missouri Law that if a person who is HIV+ does not disclose their status that they may be charged:

Missouri Lawmakers Pass Bill Toughening HIV Laws

From U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

May 20, 2002

People infected with the virus that causes AIDS could face more prison time for exposing others to the disease, according to a bill headed to Missouri's governor. The bill, sponsored by Sen. David Klarich (R-Clayton) passed the Senate by a 28-1 vote. "This is a public safety issue," Klarich said. "This helps those who may be victims of those who have the HIV virus." Klarich also said the legislation was long overdue, since HIV cases were showing up in greater numbers since the mid-1980s. Under the bill, people who know they have HIV yet have sex without telling their partners about the disease could face five to 15 years in prison. If a sexual partner becomes infected with HIV, the punishment could be life in prison. Current law already includes a five-year prison term for people who do not tell their sexual partners about the disease.

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Comment by: Kirk (Dallas) Sun., Dec. 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm UTC
Thanks for sharing the sobering reality of what the laws have made you, I and so many to be. The words, "I am a criminal" really hurt but I guess it should. So, I will do something positive today and I do embrace the words you shared: happiness, hope, empowerment, and long life. Thanks again for the blog and the courage.
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Comment by: Another One (Maryland) Sat., Dec. 1, 2012 at 11:26 am UTC
This is misleading. The law in question (Mo. Rev. Stat. 191-677) only applies if BOTH knowledge (i.e., disclosure) and consent are absent. Just disclosure isn't enough; consent is required. I see no problem with that. Consent is required for ANY sexual contact. Just using a condom is not a defence to ANY non-consensual sexual contact. There are plenty of real problems with laws relating to HIV. Don't manufacture one.
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