January 24, 2014
Nick Rhoades, 39, an Iowa man who pleaded guilty in 2009 to "criminal transmission of HIV," will have his case heard before the Iowa Supreme Court, according to the Des Moines Register.
Although the man with whom Rhoades engaged in oral sex remains HIV negative, Rhoades had an undetectable viral load, and they used a condom during the sexual encounter, the man was able to sue Rhoades because he did not disclose his HIV-positive status. Rhoades' lawyer advised him to plead guilty, and after an initial sentence of 25 years in prison, Rhoades' sentence was reduced to the time he'd already served.
Rhoades' case has garnered national attention, including coverage in CNN, BuzzFeed, POZ I AM Radio and the documentary HIV Is Not a Crime by anti-criminalization advocate Sean Strub. It is the most high-profile of several criminalization cases that have received media attention in the U.S. in recent years, including Minnesota v. Rick and a burgeoning HIV criminalization scandal in Missouri.
Many in the HIV community feel criminalization relies on outdated science to institutionalize hate, as sound science now shows that the risk of transmission with the use of a condom and/or an undetectable viral load is usually negligible. Many also worry that criminalization may discourage HIV testing, as those who do not know their status cannot be held accountable for transmission.
Mathew Rodriguez is the editorial project manager for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
Follow Mathew on Twitter: @mathewrodriguez.