This morning I came across an article about Carlos Rose, a man convicted of knowingly infecting women with HIV. Even though Mr. Rose and myself could not be any more different, especially because he is also convicted on spreading HIV to underage girls (Well, I guess in the eyes of the far right we are identical), I found myself pondering my own issues with telling my status. For me it is not the struggle to tell or not to tell. It is in my moral fabric to disclose my HIV status before I engage in any sexual contact. My struggle lies in the exact moment to inform my partner; knowing that this information might change his view of me and may not be interested in me. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people that do not feel the same and choose not to tell. For a moment let us put away the moral implications of disclosing and discuss the serious legal ramifications.
36 states in America had prosecuted HIV positive individuals for criminal transmission or HIV exposure, with many having laws specifically mentioning HIV Some states punish those convicted of offences such as prostitution or rape more severely if the person knows they have HIV. Spitting or emitting HIV-infected bodily fluids at another person while in prison is also an offence in some states. Failure to disclose one’s HIV status to a partner is most often the only necessary basis for prosecution, rather than intent to infect someone else or actual transmission of HIV. At least nine HIV-positive individuals in the US have been sentenced for spitting with sentences ranging from 90 days to 25 years…
New York – The applicable part of the law is reckless endangerment in the first degree for engaging in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person”
For all my friends in Pennsylvania:
The state Superior Court ruled in a 2006 case involving oral sex that HIV positive people who do not disclose their status to their sexual partners can be charged with reckless endangerment. It follows that any kind of unprotected sex without disclosure could be prosecuted.
See Criminal Tranmission of HIV from AVERTing HIV and Aids
These courts believe that if you are aware of your status you have a legal obligation to inform your partner. By not telling your partner, you can be brought up on ciminal charges. It doesn’t matter if you have malicious intent or if you are just being stupid.