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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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bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
While I agree on some level why not make any communicable disease a crime if someone purposefully spreads it. Laws like this while in some cases just add to the stigma of HIV as a death sentence, as a punishment, and not what it really is a preventable disease. Seriously on some level the person who knowingly spreads the virus can only do so if you allow them to have sex with you unprotected, you share a needle with the person etc etc at some point you need to take responsibility for your own personal protection.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i think that in the case that you know that you have it and you aren't taking every measure possible to try not to pass it on, then you should be prosecuted for it. that's just wrong to make someone else suffer with an illness that you have because you're being careless.
Soapboxer Soapboxer 8 years
How is this even a question?
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 8 years
It completely depends on the situation.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
I think that anyone who (intentionally infects) another person should be chemically castrated, held responsible for medical bills, committed to a (life sentence of community service) and light jail time. Some of you may remember a few pages ago a post regarding abstinence and in one of my comments I disclosed that I had made the choice to be abstinent for about two years in my 20's and from previous posts before that regarding HIV that I am myself hiv positive. Well now you know why I made the choice to be abstinent, when I found out the news of my infection I was of course not only concerned about my own health but my impact on the health of any potential partners. HIV is still and even more so in 1997 such a stigmatizing matter that as a young man I was willing to give up sex in the prime of my life than have to face someone and disclose my status before sex. I finally got to the point where blue (you know what's) was driving me out of my mind so I said the hell with it I'm going to disclose. Pragmatism and logic began to find it's way into my thoughts after two years of paranoia. There has to be others out there like me and if I have to find them by hit or miss than so be it. In a ten year period I can honestly say that education is working. In the first few years after my infection after I would disclose guys for the most part would simply cease communications. In the middle years I would get a thanks for telling me and then a cease in communication and in the last few years half the people would withdraw their interest but also make it clear to me that they had the most profound respect for me for having that much respect for them and the other half just looks at me blankly and says....thanks for telling me but I'm cool with that. As strange fate would have it my sweet heart is a (thanks for telling me but I'm cool with that) and hiv neg.
Briandiesel Briandiesel 8 years
Having friends who have it and one of my dear friends having JUST test positive, its a terrible thing. I think that while you should be careful and be tested regularly, things happen. If you knowingly test positive and continue to 1. tell people you are negative and therefore pass it on to someone, you should be prosecuted.
beavis667 beavis667 8 years
What if you fire a gun into the air? You may be ignorant to the fact that there are people around you who may get hit by a falling bullet. You may be ignorant to the fact that it's a dangerous thing to do. It's still a risky activity. Driving a car is a risky activity also, and if you do so in a negligent way whether you know the laws or not, you are held accountable for hurting people. Sex can be a risky activity. Is it so hard to expect that people who engage in risky activity have some personal responsibility? It can change lives just like careless shooting and driving.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
The only thing I don't like about this as a proposed law is that there would be a need for mandatory testing. I think that once we go that direction, it become to Orwellian for my blood.
EkaterinaBallerina EkaterinaBallerina 8 years
If you are aware of having HIV and intentionally spread it then yes, you should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. For some people HIV is a death sentence, for some its not. It generally depends on your living condition. However, the responsibility of the other person involved needs to be taken into account. If you willing have unprotected sex with someone whose sexual history you are not 100% aware of, you are playing with fire. I hate to fall back on the old line, but it does take two to tango. When it comes to sex, both consenting parties are responsible for their actions. That being said though, when the situation is beyond your control, some leniency should be shown (ie in cases where you were the victim of a sexual assault) Whoever pointed out that if you point a gun at someone, you are guilty of a crime hit the nail on the head. This crime, if intentional, is really no different.
stephley stephley 8 years
"If anything, this is good in that it sneaks some personal responsibility back into deciding to be sexually active." Hmm yeah, morality police.
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
It's not so much ignorance that would be the excuse, but the lack of the intention of spreading the virus (because you're ignorant of having it). We punish both on mens rea (the guilty mind) and actus reus (the guilty act) in order to find someone criminally liable. So, if you don't know you have HIV and spread HIV, you don't have the guilty mind.
beavis667 beavis667 8 years
I can't think of another law where ignorance is an excuse. Why would there be a special exception with HIV transmission? If anything, this is good in that it sneaks some personal responsibility back into deciding to be sexually active.
pinkprincess1101 pinkprincess1101 8 years
Of course i agree, kad that is a trick question. My sisters sister in law was a nurse married to a doctor that contracted HIV through a needle from a though patient in the hospital, she loved george more than life itself and she decided that the love of her life died from this disease that she would too, which some may say that was selfish and some say love, there were no kids, a few years after george died rose died.
Berlin Berlin 8 years
I think it depends on the circumstances. If you point a gun at someone, you aren't going to end up with a 35 year sentence, and since it doesn't spread by means of spitting, it'd be hard to judge if it were intentional. If you have the test and it's positive, and then you go and have unprotected sex, then yes I feel that you should be held accountable, but not to THAT extreme. But if you are (say in the recent case of the injections/orgies) then yes, that should be held to a higher degree of punishment. It's hard to judge if you're just having sex, but I feel that if you are infected, and you are having sex, it is your responsibility to tell the person who's about to become vulnerable to you. If you don't, then yes you should be able to prosecuted. And then I feel it should be taken on a case-by-case basis of how strongly the person should be held accountable or sentenced.
KadBunny KadBunny 8 years
Man that's tough. :( Whether they KNOW they have it or not? I can see how this will keep morons from having intentional unprotected sex, but there ARE cases where people don't know they have it and accidentally pass it on. Where does the law draw the line?
Roarman Roarman 8 years
Im torn here. I see HIV/AIDS (especially in this Counrty) as a completely preventable disease. And I think that it is terrible that people who know they have it continue to have unprotected sex with people and subsequently pass it on. But I don't know that criminanlizing a disease is the best thing. On one hand, I agree with those that said if you intentionally pass it on you should go to jail, but with a faulty justice system Im afraid that innocent people with this disease might end up in jail.
stephley stephley 8 years
In extreme cases, where someone maliciously passes on AIDS, I can understand prosecuting them. Otherwise, I don't see this as a helpful way to deal with AIDS. It could discourage people who believe they may have HIV from getting a definitive diagnosis - you can't be prosecuted if you can claim you didn't know. Also, what other deadly diseases is it criminal to spread? How do you determine malicious intent versus self-delusion? Education and support is more likely to help than criminalizing in everything but the most extreme cases.
siguros siguros 8 years
Depends on what the punishment is....
margokhal margokhal 8 years
Intentionally transmitting or allowing for the transmission of a disease that, if contracted, leads to a reduced quality of life, hardships, physical and mental anguish, and many times eventual death SHOULD be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. It's the same thing as intentionally poisoning someone. Whether you wanted them to die or not, you still gave them something that had the potential (and in the case of HIV, it's SERIOUS potential) to kill them. However, though a law that prosecutes intentional transmission is a good idea and should be implemented, it is STILL each individual's responsibility and obligation to keep tabs on their own health and do all they can to find out the health of people they come in intimate contact with (sexually or however) to protect themselves and others.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
If you knowingly point a gun at another person, that's at least aassault with a deadly weapon. How is this any different?
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
second that, CG!
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
If you know you have it? and knowingly spread it? you should be prosecuted.
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