The United States reportedly leads the world with "thousands" of prosecutions of people living with HIV/AIDS. Thirty-two states and two territories criminalize exposure and/or transmission of HIV. Some states penalize people for having sex without revealing their serostatus -- even if a condom was used, the person's viral load was undetectable, and even if the virus was not transmitted.
Recent years have seen a surge in prosecutions -- especially around spitting or biting cases, which pose very little risk of transmission. One of the more infamous recent cases involved a black, gay, HIV-positive Michigan man who initially faced bio-terrorism charges after he allegedly bit another man during a brawl.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) has introduced the Repeal Existing Policies that Encourage and Allow Legal HIV Discrimination Act, or REPEAL Act, for the second year in a row. That would mandate a federal review of HIV-specific discrimination laws. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced companion legislation last week in the Senate. Let's hope for some movement.
Rod McCullom has written and produced for ABC News, NBC and FOX, The Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, EBONY, POZ and many others. Read his blog at Rod 2.0.
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