July 8, 2009
Advocates are asking why the Lansing Police Department's report of a May 22 sex sting included the information that one of the arrested men is HIV-positive.
According to the report, the man, whose identity was withheld by the Michigan Messenger, was arrested at Fenner Nature Center after agreeing to a sexual encounter with an undercover officer and a fictitious third man. The man reportedly told the officer he was "clean," presumably meaning HIV-negative. A search of the detainee's car turned up "several containers of medication," and upon inquiry, the man said he had been HIV-positive for 18 years. The man has pleaded guilty to one count of indecent exposure.
Michigan law requires an HIV-positive person to disclose his or her serostatus prior to engaging in any sexual penetration, however slight. The accused is not charged of violating this law, or any other criminal law requiring disclosure of HIV status in public records. State law makes unauthorized disclosure of person's HIV status a crime. Such disclosure may be made only by public health officials under very specific conditions, such as protecting the health of the individual and notifying partners.
"Since this police report is a public record, the information regarding his HIV status should have been redacted and absent his express authorized permission to disclose, or a court order, this information should not have been included in the report you were given," said an e-mail to the Messenger from Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan's LGBT project.
Lansing City Attorney Brigham Smith authorized the release of the records containing the man's HIV status. Smith told the City Council's Public Safety Committee that the disclosure was not illegal because the federal Health Information and Portability Act (HIPA) does not apply to the city.