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Countries Make Spreading HIV a Crime — Good Law?


A rising number of nations are implementing laws that make it a crime to spread HIV. Thirty-two US states criminalize passing on the disease, and in some countries, intentional transmission leads to life in prison.

While such a harmful action may seem like it warrants some legal attention, activists worry that these laws could force the epidemic underground or deter people from getting treatment, thus having the unintended consequence of spreading the disease.

Last spring, a Texas jury handed down a 35-year prison sentence for the crime of assault with a deadly weapon after an HIV-positive man spit into the eye and mouth of a police officer. Most of you said that the sentence was too extreme, since saliva does not pass on HIV. What do you make of laws that punish people who actually do transmit HIV to another person?

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