Health Care

Intentional HIV infection no longer a felony in California

Intentional HIV infection no longer a felony in California

Of the 379 HIV-related convictions in California between 1988 and 2014, only seven - less than 2 percent - included the intent to transmit HIV, according to a recent series of studies from the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute.

In the case of the laws around blood donation, research has shown that the law was probably never enforced and likely did little to enhance the screening measures that already exist to identify sources of infected blood. In fact, there were cases where the state prosecuted people that had no physical contact with an HIV-free person.

Advocates have long warned that these laws discourage people from getting tested, creating a legal incentive not to know your status, as well as noting the use of them to disproportionately go after people of color. Additionally, 25 states criminalize one or more behaviors that pose a low or negligible risk for HIV transmission.

"With the Governor's signature today, we are helping to reduce the stigma that keeps some from knowing their HIV status and getting into treatment to prevent additional infections".

Laws punishing people with HIV began in the 1980s during the height of the AIDS epidemic when fear about transmission was rampant and no drugs were available to treat HIV.

California made it a felony to KNOWINGLY expose someone to HIV or KNOWINGLY concealing HIV infection when donating blood.

Sen. Joel Anderson (R) also was not for the change in legislation.

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"We're very serious about this reform, and moving away from this criminalization model around HIV and going to a more public health approach", Wiener said. "A lot of what was behind this was basically looking at the laws to see how we could improve public health and modernizing these laws, so HIV is treated the same". Intentional transmission of any other communicable disease, even a potentially deadly condition like hepatitis, is a misdemeanor. Wiener's bill would put HIV and AIDS in the same category. I want to thank Governor Brown for signing SB 239.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill on Friday that lowers from a felony to a misdemeanor the crime of knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV without disclosing the infection.

Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener and Assemblyman Todd Gloria, coauthors the legislation, argued that modern medicine has changed the lifespan of HIV-infected persons and almost eliminates the change of transmission.

It was authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D-San Diego).

"Today, California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals", said Wiener in a statement, as reported by Los Angeles Times.

The American Medical Association and the Infectious Diseases Society of America have come out against laws criminalizing HIV, and the CDC recently announced those living with HIV who are undetectable can not pass the virus on to others, even without protection.