A gathering of California officials have proposed enactment that would make it no longer a lawful offense for a HIV-positive individual to purposely open others to the malady by not uncovering their HIV status and participating in unprotected sex.
The new enactment would make such acts an offense. The measure was composed by state Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) with Assemblywoman Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) and Assemblymen Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) and David Chiu (D-San Francisco).
THE LOS ANGELES TIMES STATED:
“HIV-related stigma is one of our main obstacles to reducing and ultimately eliminating infections,” Wiener said. “When you criminalize HIV or stigmatize people who have HIV it encourages people not to get tested, to stay in the shadows, not to be open about their status, not to seek treatment.”
Legislators who support the measure say medicine has made the current law unfair.
“These laws are absolutely discriminatory. No other serious infectious disease is treated this way. HIV was signaled out,” said Wiener, who wrote the legislation with Assemblywoman Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) and Assemblymen Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) and David Chiu (D-San Francisco).
They noted that someone can be charged with a felony even if the medicine they are taking makes them virally suppressed, which means it is unlikely they would pass the infection to another person.
“Current state law related to those living with HIV is unfair because it is based on the fear and ignorance of a bygone era,” Gloria said. “With this legislation, California takes an important step to update our laws to reflect the medical advances which no longer make a positive diagnosis equal to a death sentence.”
This enactment also has an opposing side:
Opponents of the bill, including state Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Murrieta), say knowingly exposing others to a life-altering disease should remain a felony.
“HIV/AIDS remains a deadly disease,” Stone, a pharmacist, said in a statement. “Existing law provides accountability of those engaging in unprotected, risky behavior that endangers the life of another.”
Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) said the availability of medicines that can prolong life does not change the major impact an HIV-positive diagnosis has on a person’s life.
“While we have come a long way with AIDS, you still have to take drugs for the rest of your life. You still have to bear the burden of the costs of the health care,” Anderson said. “I get that this is the only disease that is treated that way, but I think any disease that you inflict on somebody against their will that permanently changes them should be a felony.”
Anderson said he would be willing to address the discrimination issue by adding other diseases to the list whose intentional spreading is a felony.
He challenged the argument that the law change is needed because otherwise some people will not get tested and will continue spreading the disease.
“Because they are so disrespectful of the people they are willing to engage in a sexual act with and risk their life, that is the reason why they need to go to prison,” Anderson said. “They can’t be trusted in society as a responsible person.”
So, tell us, what do you think about this enactment? Should not telling your partner that you are HIV positive be a lawful offense? And is the criminalization of AIDS discriminatory? Tell us what you think and share this post to raise awareness!
Sources and References: instinctmagazine.com