To Tell or Not To Tell

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.



Filed under AIDS, Gay, HIV, HIV/AIDS, Question/Discussion

4 responses to “To Tell or Not To Tell

  1. I don’t know. I guess I feel like your partner should be made aware before sex, but I can’t imagine when that point in the relationship would be. I would want prospective partners to form an idea about me based on ME, not on their (possibly misinformed) views on what it means to be positive.

    What are your thoughts? I’m curious.

    • positivelydatingnyc

      I agree that your partner must be informed before any sexual contact. You are right to think that it colors their opinion of you and they don’t see you as you anymore but as the disease and a potential contaminant. I do one of two things; I tell my prospective date before we even go out, this is to nip it in the bud so I don’t get hurt further down the line. Or I will tell them before things progress and I know that we will become physical. Regardless, it is a tricky subject to bring up.

      I am not sure exactly how I feel about these laws. I agree that some measure has to be taken, especially when malicious intent is involved. I feel very strongly that the person who have HIV has the obligation to tell, but I also feel that if you do not ask your partner if they are HIV positive, you are partially liable.

  2. Courtney

    Well, it can be compared to the idea of sex with a minor — even if a minor misrepresents his or her age, the crime is still committed.

    Or if you have sex with a woman who misrepresents (knowingly or unknowingly) her birth control status/ability to get pregnant, and she gets pregnant, you are still liable for the child.

    Intent seems to be the biggest piece of the puzzle. If someone doesn’t know his or her own status and infects someone, I would think that would be a painful discovery for both parties. But, then, how do you know if someone legitimately doesn’t know? If someone calls to say, “Look, get checked” and they don’t… does that make them legally culpable or just stupid and ignorant?

    But the laws against spitting while positive? That seems crazy. I think that the laws need to take into account the likelihood of transmission.

    • positivelydatingnyc

      As I said before I agree that it is the obligation for the positive partner to inform of their status. But if he or she does not and the other person does not ask, should they not be liable as well? Do they not have the obligation to themselves to ask and protect themselves?

      If the negative person ask and the positive person lies, then there is a cause of action. But I feel if the questions are not asked then they are both liable.

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