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Policy & Politics

Barbara Lee Bill Would Push States to Roll Back Criminal HIV Laws

May 9, 2013

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) has introduced a bill in the US House of Representatives that would force the repeal or amendment of state and federal laws that make it a crime for HIV-infected people to expose sexual partners to the virus, even if they do not transmit the virus. Many states enacted laws that criminalize intentional HIV transmission to satisfy requirements of the Ryan White Care Act of 1990.

Lee stated that her participation on the United Nations Development Program's Global Commission on HIV and the Law made her aware of US laws that discriminate against HIV-infected people. For example, people who know they have HIV and expose a partner through unprotected sex without forewarning the partner can go to jail for three to eight years under California's law. Lee stated that it is against the law in 32 states and 2 US territories for an HIV-infected person to expose another person, even if they do not transmit the virus. The Center for HIV Law and Policy reported at least 350 cases in 36 states where HIV-infected people have been "arrested or prosecuted" for having consensual sex or "biting and spitting."

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See Also's Just Diagnosed Resource Center
Telling Others You're HIV Positive
More on U.S. Laws/News Regarding HIV Disclosure

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Brian (San Diego ) Mon., May. 13, 2013 at 12:07 pm UTC
There is a detail you left out about the disclosure laws in California. According to Health and Safety Code 120291 states
that any person who exposes another to HIV
by engaging in unprotected sexual activity is
guilty of a felony, when the infected person:

1) knows he/she is infected; 2) has not
disclosed his/her HIV-positive status; and 3)
acts with the intent to infect the other person
with HIV.

In California there needs to be intent to infect the other person before it can be a felony. Knowledge of infection alone will not make the situation a felony. Pleae make sure that you check your facts before putting information in your articles.
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