Policy & Politics
Iowa: "Draconian" HIV Transmission Law May Change
February 6, 2014
This article was reported by WCF Courier.
The WCF Courier reported on that Iowa's state Sen. Steve Sodders (D-State Center) proposed changes to the state's criminal transmission of HIV statute that would delineate between someone who had criminal intent to infect a partner with infectious diseases like HIV, hepatitis C, or TB, and someone who merely failed to disclose their infection. The proposed Contagious or Infectious Disease Transmission Act would take into account whether the infected person used condoms or was taking medications to limit the risk of transmission.
An HIV-positive man in Waterloo, Iowa, recently received a suspended sentence with two to five years of probation for having unprotected sex with a man three times in 2009. The HIV-positive man also must register as a sex offender. The accuser did not test positive for HIV. According to CDE, treatment with antiretroviral medications could reduce HIV transmission by as much as 96 percent. Condom use could reduce risk by approximately 80 percent.
Under Sodders' proposed changes, knowing one's HIV status and having sex would not constitute criminal intent to infect. Those who knew their status and intentionally transmitted a disease would get up to 10 years in prison (a class C felony). A person who knew his or her HIV status and acted with "reckless disregard," but did not intend to infect a partner, would face an aggravated misdemeanor charge. The bill eliminated the sex offender registration requirement.
Iowa's 1998 law responded to a New York case in which an HIV-positive man stated he had intentionally infected 13 women and girls with HIV. According to Iowa Department of Public Health spokesperson Randy Mayer, excessively punitive laws dissuaded people from having HIV tests and linking to care that could prevent future transmission. The proposed changes had bipartisan support from legislators and Iowa's Attorney General Tom Miller.
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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