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HIV 'Criminals' Cut Free of GPS Monitoring Devices After Iowa Removes Outdated Law: VIDEO


At this week's HIV is Not a Crime conference at Grinnell College, Nick Rhoades and Donald Bogardus were cut free from their GPS monitoring devices on stage in a symbolic celebration of the legislature overturning Iowa's outdated HIV criminalization law.

GLAAD writes:

Nicholas Rhoades was sentenced to 25 years in prison and became a registered tier-one sex offender because he had sex, used a condom, and is HIV positive with an undetectable viral load. Donald Bogardus, who is also HIV positive with an undetectable viral load, faced similar sentencing and felony charges. Neither men transmitted HIV to their partners, but that was irrelevant, because Iowa is one of more than 30 states that criminalizes HIV.

That is, until last week, when Governor Terry Branstad (IA-R) signed into law updated, modernized HIV transmission legislation. This made Iowa the first state to repeal outdated HIV criminalization, replacing it with a transmission statute that is grounded in science, public health, and a commitment to reducing stigma.


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  1. About friggin time

    Posted by: Qj201 | Jun 6, 2014 12:50:15 PM

  2. Nice start. Now, how about a bill providing restitution for people thrown in jail when they in fact posed no risk to others? These guys shouldn't have to live in poverty when they become senior citizens just because the state made it impossible for them to save up for it.

    Posted by: Bill | Jun 6, 2014 12:56:17 PM

  3. Just, wow.

    Posted by: WayneMPLs | Jun 6, 2014 1:10:25 PM

  4. From the same state that legalized same sex marriage before everyone else? Wow.

    Posted by: Mitch | Jun 6, 2014 1:16:29 PM

  5. It's great that the law was updated, but that doesn't mean the law was wrong when it was written.

    Posted by: Merv | Jun 6, 2014 1:19:13 PM

  6. Actually Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same sex marriage in 2004. Iowa in 2007.

    Damn activists judges!

    Posted by: MikeBoston | Jun 6, 2014 1:33:15 PM

  7. @ MERV

    Really? And it doesn't mean that it was right, either.

    One down, 29 to go.

    Posted by: olympiasepiriot | Jun 6, 2014 2:00:21 PM

  8. Is GLAAD doing public health now? I guess all defamation in media has been eradicated.

    Anyway, don't fall for their nonsense. No state has "criminalized HIV". That is dishonest propaganda. What was - and remains - criminal is the exposure of others to HIV either intentionally or recklessly. The new Iowa statute continues to criminalize that behavior. However, it allows for consideration of a wider spectrum of factors. The new law creates several slots into which a case may fall, ranging from a Class B Felony to a Class D felony to a serious misdemeanor. So if you intentionally infect someone and are convicted, you can still be sent away for 25 years. If you do it not intentionally but recklessly, then it is only 5 years in prison. Also, the new statute is available to prosecutors in addition to other existing civil and criminal remedies, such as battery, negligent endangerment, etc.

    So whatever the GLAAD press release may say, make no mistake, it is still a crime to know that you have HIV or some other infectious disease and to expose others.

    Posted by: Dave | Jun 6, 2014 2:26:08 PM

  9. @Dave, No, that is not reality, that is your bizarre hopeful reality. This law allows you to punish someone for a condom breaking. It's a law that persecutes HIV positive people because it lumps all of them in one camp. If the law can't distinguish from accidents and intent then it's a bad law that is only going to make things worse.

    If you can't do better then this don't try, you're just making things worse.

    Posted by: Fenrox | Jun 6, 2014 2:38:50 PM

  10. Nonsense. If you have HIV, disclose it. Then everything is in the clear. Leaving gray areas where you say "well my condom broke" if the other person is not fully aware of what's going on is still reckless.

    Posted by: Yup | Jun 6, 2014 3:05:36 PM

  11. Did they or didn't they disclose? That needs to be answered.

    Wearing condoms and/or an "undetectable viral loads" should not be thresholds for any case.

    The sociopathic act of someone trying to get laid and not revealing their status because their feelings might get hurt if they're turned down should never take legal precedent. EVER.

    That that point is even being debated is nothing short of mortifying.

    Posted by: Leo | Jun 6, 2014 3:10:57 PM

  12. I fail to see why just HAVING HIV is a criminal offense? When it can be transferred by blood transfusions, organ donations, (marrow, kidney, heart, pancreas, bone, corneal, etc.) tattoos, or even breast feeding or a body piercing. This just further STIGMATIZES both HIV and full blown AIDS!

    Does the far right think that you can only transfer AIDS with dirty syringes or [shudder] gay sex.

    Reckless infection of a person with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) would easily be covered under existing criminal laws.

    Am spitting mad!!!

    Wait if I had HIV, then EVEN that could be misconstrued as an "attempted INTENTIONAL infection of a deadly threat" by a nut job even though a case like this has NEVER be proven to exist.

    Posted by: Mike | Jun 6, 2014 4:54:46 PM

  13. This article and the associated campaign are both so misleading. The criminal act was not that they just happened to be living with HIV. It's not like police were just rounding people up who had HIV. The problem here was that they had sex without disclosing that they were HIV positive. Whether or not that is illegal where you live, it is definitely unethical. Your sexual partner has the right to know if you are HIV positive.

    Posted by: bford | Jun 6, 2014 4:56:03 PM

  14. "The problem here was that they had sex without disclosing that they were HIV-positive."

    If this is indeed the case, then this is terrifying. If people are being endangered with selfish non-disclosure, then my sympathies are not with the HIV-positive folk.

    Posted by: Sergio | Jun 6, 2014 5:35:25 PM

  15. Wait, these men were having sex without disclosing their status? It doesn't matter if they were wearing condoms - those break all the time. How monstrous.

    Posted by: Håkon | Jun 6, 2014 5:39:29 PM

  16. I learned the ugly truth years ago on an anonymous message board similar to this one that there are many HIV+ people who are basically sociopaths. They feel no obligation, either moral or legal, to disclose that they are potentially killing someone. When the hypothetical situation is put to them of an inexperienced and ignorant 18-year-old who wants bareback sex under the assumption that the other person is HIV-, the HIV+ persons unabashedly say that, instead of disclosing and insisting on a condom, they will knowingly infect the poor fool and let him discover it later and deal with the consequences, probably after infecting many other people in turn. These sociopaths care about nothing but the orgasm, and will defend their sociopathic behavior without even a twinge of guilt. To them, if some ignorant fool expresses an interest in bareback sex, then that's a license to murder him.

    Posted by: Merv | Jun 6, 2014 6:41:26 PM

  17. If 'gift giving' is now legal it will make the crazies on really happy. Way to promote rape culture once again Andy Towle!

    Posted by: Carmelita | Jun 6, 2014 8:45:03 PM

  18. @Carmelita : there was an article on "gift giving" some time ago in the San Francisco Chronicle. It seems a few people were into that. The number of people into that in San Francisco apparently fit into one apartment. The idea was some sort of Russian roulette with one positive guy and many more negative guys, with nobody knowing which was which except, of course, the positive guy. It was all by mutual consent, with a very small number of people finding the risk to be a turn-on. Everyone participating knew the situation.

    My opinion - better them than me. As our current Pope said, "who am I to judge," but that doesn't mean that I shouldn't cover my you know what due to being sensible.

    Posted by: Bill | Jun 6, 2014 10:05:52 PM

  19. Why am I not surprised at the inability of Towle's typical readers to make intelligent comments to this report?

    Posted by: David | Jun 7, 2014 1:11:56 AM

  20. A few basic points for the confused Towleroad commenters:

    - Having HIV, or living with HIV, is not and has never been a crime. Orgs like GLAAD try to frame the issue that way for their political purposes, but it is misleading.

    - What has been and remains a criminal act is the exposure of others to HIV recklessly or intentionally. Under the new Iowa law, potential sentences can be as high as 25 years, if exposure was intentional and results in infection. Reckless exposure can get you 5 years in prison. If you disclose your status, that is a defense to any criminal liability.

    - You can wear a condom and you can say that you nave an undetectable viral load and that the risk is low. But you still have to disclose. Tell your partner about your condom usage and your undetectable viral load and then let him give you informed consent. You don't get to make that decision for him by withholding information.

    - One other crazy idea might be to stop hooking up with strangers. If you actually know your sex partners, which is how it works for most of humanity, then you can have thoughtful conversations about health risks in the context of love and commitment. Many studies have shown greater disclosure and greater prevention methods by HIV+ men who have sex int he context of relationships, as opposed to hookups with strangers.

    Posted by: Fred | Jun 7, 2014 11:10:52 AM

  21. @Fred : since the video shows monitoring devices being removed, one would assume that the people in question did not do anything illegal under the current (i.e., new) law as you described it and that as a result, they did not expose others to HIV "recklessly or intentionally". If that assumption is wrong, the article(s) are not providing all the facts relevant to the situation.

    Posted by: Bill | Jun 7, 2014 4:06:28 PM

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