Governor Signs Bill Modernizing California HIV Laws

Knowingly exposing others to HIV will no longer be a felony in California

HIV: Gov. Pass A New Bill To Lower Down Sentence For HIV Positive People To Have Sex Without Telling Their Partners

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill Friday that lowers the penalty for knowingly exposing others to HIV.

"Passage of SB 239 makes California the undeniable leader in ensuring that a public health rather than punitive approach is utilized to address transmissible disease prevention", said Scott Schoettes, Lambda Legal's HIV Project Director and Senior Counsel.

"With the Governor's signature today, we are helping to reduce the stigma that keeps some from knowing their HIV status and getting into treatment to prevent additional infections".

The bill was authored by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D) said, the Post reports.

Republican state Sen. Joel Anderson, who also voted against the bill, called the legislation irresponsible.

Both the American Medical Association and the Infectious Diseases Society of America have publicly condemned laws criminalizing HIV. "You'll never live your life to the same extent that you did prior to that confrontation".

Until now, HIV was the only sexually transmitted disease (STD) in California that carried a felony sentence for someone who knowingly transmitted the diseases.

You should not give blood if you have AIDS or have ever had a positive HIV test, or if you have done something that puts you at risk for becoming infected with HIV. Wiener said the outdated current law might convince people not to be tested for HIV, as without a test they could not be charged with a felony for exposing others to the virus.

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"(L) aws created to target people with HIV have been shown to increase stigma, thus reducing testing and engagement in care.

Wiener and other advocates for amending the law argued that such severe punishment dissuaded people from getting their HIV status checked, precisely to protect themselves from felony prosecution.

The Centers for Disease Control confirmed last month that HIV-positive individuals with undetectable viral loads can not transmit the virus to HIV-negative partners during sexual intercourse. When most of these laws were passed, there were no effective treatments for HIV and discrimination against people living with HIV was rampant.

Between 2010 and 2014, the rate of HIV infections fell 10 percent in the U.S., according to the CDC.

"This is not a gay issue", Stone said, noting that he was confronted by a by an openly homosexual man who told him he "is not a felon".

Stone cited other examples of people subjected to seven years of prison for causing others severe harm, such as DUI and bar brawl arrests.

Laws punishing people with HIV began in the 1980s during the height of the AIDS epidemic when fear about transmission was rampant and no drugs were available to treat HIV.

Now, instead of facing up to eight years in prison, anyone convicted of knowingly transmitting HIV will server a maximum of six months behind bars. "Sadly, the message now being sent to those who are infected with HIV is that you won't be held as accountable and don't need to be as concerned about disclosing to others the possibility that you may be exposing them to this deadly infection".

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