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U.S. News

Minnesota Supreme Court: HIV-Positive Man Wrongly Convicted of Passing Disease

August 22, 2013

The Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously decided this week that an HIV-positive man found guilty for having sex with a man who later developed the infection was convicted wrongly and sided with an appeals court to overturn the original decision. The defendant was convicted more than two years ago under an obscure law that discussed transfer of sperm, blood, or tissue, but did not refer to sexual intercourse.

AIDS activists and the American Civil Liberties Union had followed the case closely. The man maintained he informed his sexual partner that he was HIV-positive. The original jury believed that assertion and found him not guilty by reason of sexual penetration; the jury did find him guilty of attempted assault under the second part of the law. "If this conviction had been upheld, it would have been saying that sex is a lethal weapon," said Dr. Michael Horberg, chair of the HIV Medicine Association. "Obviously, the original intent of the law was specifically for organ and tissue donation, including sperm. That is a vastly different situation than what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own home."

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