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35 Years in Prison: Is HIV Spit a Deadly Weapon?

A Texas jury just handed down a 35-year sentence to an HIV-positive man convicted of harassing a public servant by spitting into the eye and mouth of a police officer.

Because his saliva was considered a deadly weapon, he will have to serve half of the sentence before he becomes eligible for parole.

The incident happened while the ill man was intoxicated in public. It seems that if he did not have HIV, a minimum 17 years in jail would be very extreme for a stupid drunken night. Is it still?

Considering that contact with saliva has never been shown to spread HIV, is this sentence an irrational response to the offense? Or, is society justified in taking such a reckless man off the streets?


Join The Conversation
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 9 years
That must've been terribly frightening for the officer. This guy should at least be charged with harassment or emotional distress.
jocewein jocewein 9 years
I think it outrageous that anyone would find logic in this ruling. The court system is supposed to be based on facts, not emotion. The jury in this case has seemed to set aside all the facts about HIV and reverted to a "that's gross" conviction for this man. HIV cannot be spread through saliva and the actions of a drunken angry man spitting on a policeman should not result in him losing 30+ years of his life. This ruling sounds like it comes from 1985, not 2008. Is this man going to be convicted of further crimes if he misses when he is urinating and some of his pee gets on the toilet seat in prison? Can his cellmate accuse him of attempted murder too? Where does this stop? Where is the ACLU fighting this insane and unjustified ruling? The jurors should be ashamed of themselves for perpetuating myths about HIV and for taking away this man's life. That is what they are doing; they are giving him a life sentence for spitting. But what should we expect? Texas profits from beef and prisoners. Apparently, education and common sense means nothing in the Lone Star state.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I think he should be punished to the extent. Even though saliva doesnt carry the virus, he still delibrately used his bodily fluids to inflict humiliation and emotional pain on a police officer, who had to go through god knows what inner turmoil after the incident , just because its not probable doesnt mean its any less scary. IF he can spit on a cop, he could do worse to himself or others.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
Hypno I am so happy that you are healthy. :)
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Thanks KrisSugar and janneth.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
That is a good point kh61582, but he's being charged with (attempt) I'm not sure what the charge would be if the officer actually did contract the virus from him. Definitely something to look into.
kh61582 kh61582 9 years
My question is did the police officer contract HIV? If he did not then this sentence is way too extreme. I do believe that he should get 1-3 years probation because whether saliva spread HIV or not it is irresponsible of this man to joke around with it. if the police office did not contract HIV, which I'm guessing he didn't because that would have been a big part of the story, then this sentense is extreme and will probably be turned over on appeal. I'm a little surprised that there is no group that has come out to defend this guy.
janneth janneth 9 years
Hypno, I am glad you are in perfect health, you look like it.
kikidawn kikidawn 9 years
oops sorry :OOPS:
kikidawn kikidawn 9 years
I, too, think something is missing. What exactly was his intent? To infect the police officer or just to make him mad?
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
that's awesome hypnotic that you are doing so well!
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
My goodness nyaradzom2001 what state are you living in? I've been positive for going on 11 years now. Just started taking meds for the first time a year and a half ago. Three pills once a day and I've been undetectable for almost as long. I've never had any illness related to my status. I don't pay anything for my meds either because ADAP covers what my employer does not and even if I wasn't working ADAP would cover the whole thing if I couldn't pay. My Dr. tells me if it wasn't for your previous tests before you came to me I would never know your positive. He says I'm in perfect health.
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
hypnotic definitely, once you miss a day or even take the drug cocktail at a different time you are messing with your life. Back home if you are lucky to work for a company which provides free ARVs or you are filthy rich then your chances are great, but if you aren't rich which is about 80% of the population the drugs they give you can actualy burn you inside out, it's awful. a lot of people just eat as healthily as they can and as many "rural" foods they can to keep healthy. it's tough and Iknow how lazy I am with my meds I can't imagine havig to down 20 at the same time everyday. It kills me though when children have HIV.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
Why isn't that emoticon working?!? Grrrrrrrrr
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
:ROTFL: patooey is a funny word.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
nyaradzom2001: I agree that anyone who knowingly/maliciously spreads any virus be it HIV or other should be punished as well. As it pertains to HIV/Aids here in the U.S. the picture you paint yes does exist but it is a very narrow view of people who end up with the worst symptoms. I've volunteered with Aids Project Los Angeles and Foothill Aids Project in Los Angeles County for 10 years I found that those that experienced the worst symptoms were those who did no adhere to their drug regimen. Once you start medication you can not be missing doses here and there. If you do yes the risk of that is the virus mutates and becomes resistant to the drug. There are only so many drug cocktails out that can control HIV and if one misses enough doses they could quite conceivable go through all the cocktails and none of them will work. I have seen this happen by people who were infected and had a dooms day approach to their health once they were infected. They didn't care anymore and so they missed their doses until the meds were for all intents and purposes useless. The majority of people who get tested and adhere to their drug regimen are doing quite well here in the U.S.
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
This seems ridiculous. If HIV can't be transmitted through saliva, then how is his spit a deadly weapon? How is that any different from a garden variety assaulting a police officer charge? I suppose if the guy said something like I have HIV and I'm going to give it to you patooey, then maybe... But, otherwise, this seems like old school uneducated fear and discrimination.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
I hope so too guys. He's an absolute sweetheart and a talented performer.
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
Nya's right, your friend's diagnosis isn't the end of the world. There is a whole lot of life to be lived even after such a diagnosis. Hopefully he can grow to accept it and maybe turn it into something positive where he can help others. Or maybe he doesn't want to do that. He can just live his life to the fullest!
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
He was drunk. I don't know about the long sentence, some people who kill don't get that long. I guess that made him an example. Sad. There is also a high number of infected people in jail, I hope he still gets adequate care. HF- your friend will be find. Once he realize what this means for his life he will adjust and it will be fine it's not a death sentence anymore.
stephley stephley 9 years
Nya, I sympathize with your family, and I'm not trying to defend this guy just pointing out the potential for discrimination. Bella has a story of a scary guy threatening to spread the infection: You say I don't want to take any chances: The government doesn't think saliva transmits HIV: This guy spits and his whole body is considered a deadly weapon, despite the fact that the government says spit doesn't spread HIV. Fear leads to hysteria which leads to unreasonable rulings which leads to unreasonable jail time for an HIV-positive person who did something bad but not necessarily felonious.
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
i agree with bella he probably just needs time, at least he knows now. all you can do is be a good friend and beig HIV+ is not the end of the world, he can still do anything anyone else can do he just has to be more careful. i don't envy you though I wouldn't know what to say I'd probably end up with my foot in my mouth.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
Thanks bella. :)
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
HF, well give him time. He just may need some time alone to digest everything. I wish him well and hopefully the cocktail they give him won't make him overly sick.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
Please disregard the big smiling avatar next to these statements.
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