AIDS/HIV | Health

Department of Justice Urges States To Drop HIV Criminalization

The Civil Rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice is strongly urging legislators across the country to strike down laws that currently criminalize HIV-positive people who, often unknowingly, “certain behaviors before disclosing known HIV-positive status.”

DojHIV criminalization laws sprang up across the country in the early days of the AIDS epidemic when diagnoses and death were swift and sometimes unexpected. In a time when the exact means of transmission were misunderstood and means of treating those infected were scant, the laws were a desperate attempt to curtail the spread of the virus. More robust public health funding  was provided to the states in 1990 provided that the states criminalized HIV transmission.

Unfortunately, most of the laws regarding HIV positive individuals and their conduct haven’t managed to keep pace with the development of treatments. Put simply, the laws just don’t work. Last year the United Nations HIV/AIDS prevention task force found that in criminalizing HIV transmission these laws discouraged people from finding out their HIV statuses.

“Generally the best practice would be for states to reform these laws to eliminate HIV-specific criminal penalties except in two distinct circumstances.”

The DoJ’s guide reads:

First, states may wish to retain criminal liability when a person who knows he/she is HIV positive commits a (non-HIV specific) sex crime where there is a risk of transmission (e.g., rape or other sexual assault). The second circumstance is where the individual knows he/she is HIV positive and the evidence clearly demonstrates the individual’s intent was to transmit the virus and that the behavior engaged in had a significant risk of transmission, whether or not transmission actually occurred.

Read the Department of Justice’s Best Practices Guide to Reform HIV-Specific Criminal Laws to Align with Scientifically-Supported Factors AFTER THE JUMP...

Department of Justice’s Best Practices Guide to Reform HIV-Specific Criminal Laws to Align with Scientifica...

 

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Comments

  1. Despicable. The DOJ is saying that there should be no legal consequence unless there is an actual intent to infect. So if he person knows he has HIV, is reckless, and infects someone else, he gets to go home laughing. In fact, even if he had an actual intent to infect someone, DOJ is saying there should be no consequences unless there is a "significant" risk of infection. So you can try to kill someone and create a moderate risk that it will happen, but because it wasn't "significant" you get to laugh all the way home too.

    HIV rates are dropping all over the US, but are surging among gay men. Maybe it is time to stop constantly worrying about "stigma" and facilitating the sex lives of infected people, and to start thinking about how to end new infections.

    Posted by: Lee | Jul 22, 2014 3:48:24 AM


  2. If that is a concern it's called a condom. HIV Criminalization was always puzzling. There are 2 people that male a decision to engage in a certain type of behavior. Person A could be recently infected but Person B chooses to bareback.. that sounds like 2 responsible parties to me. It's easy to have a victim & villain but not really accurate or fair

    Posted by: Michael | Jul 22, 2014 7:23:44 AM


  3. If that is a concern it's called a condom. HIV Criminalization was always puzzling. There are 2 people that male a decision to engage in a certain type of behavior. Person A could be recently infected but Person B chooses to bareback.. that sounds like 2 responsible parties to me. It's easy to have a victim & villain but not really accurate or fair

    Posted by: Michael | Jul 22, 2014 7:23:44 AM


  4. "First, states may wish to retain criminal liability when a person who knows he/she is HIV positive commits a (non-HIV specific) sex crime where there is a risk of transmission (e.g., rape or other sexual assault). The second circumstance is where the individual knows he/she is HIV positive and the evidence clearly demonstrates the individual’s intent was to transmit the virus and that the behavior engaged in had a significant risk of transmission, whether or not transmission actually occurred."

    Look at the second part. That CLEARLY covers exactly what you-all are concerned about. I was a bit worried over this issue, at first, until reading that paragraph. They've covered both sides of the playing-field and seem to have come to a decently logical conclusion.

    Posted by: Cody Reed | Jul 22, 2014 7:56:43 AM


  5. I think I remember when this connection to funding came into force. VT at the time refused to criminalize, which meant local AIDS service providers got a big cut in Federal funds. I think that's when we started contributing, to make up for the difference.

    Posted by: KevinVt | Jul 22, 2014 10:04:27 AM


  6. If you wanna see why hiv transmission should be criminalized go to www.breedingzone.com and take a peek at the perverse "gift givers" there.

    Posted by: Carmelo | Jul 22, 2014 4:56:35 PM


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