California Lowers Penalty For Knowingly Exposing Partners To HIV

Intentionally Exposing Some To HIV

Jerry Brown signed legislation Friday that lowers the punishment for people who knowingly donate HIV-infected blood.

Sen. Scott Wiener (D) and Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D) both sponsored the bill.

Wiener said he believed that California's felony HIV laws created a disincentive for some people to get tested, potentially doing more to increase rather than mitigate the public health risk of HIV.

Comparing HIV with other serious infectious diseases, member of the California State Senate - Scott Wiener said: "HIV should be treated like all other serious infectious diseases, and that's what SB 239 does".

Knowingly transmitting HIV to another person can still be classified as a felony in cases where intent to do so can be proven.

California lawmakers have passed legislation to reduce the penalty for those who knowingly or intentionally expose others to HIV without their knowledge, rolling back a law that mostly affected sex workers.

Last year, legislators approved organ transplants between HIV positive people in a reversal of an earlier decision aimed at limiting the spread of the disease. I want to thank Governor Brown for signing SB 239. These organizations are part of Californians for HIV Criminalization Reform (CHCR), a broad coalition of people living with HIV, HIV and health service providers, civil rights organizations and public health professionals dedicated to ending the criminalization of people living with HIV in California.

However, not everyone is convinced of the wisdom of such a decision.

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

"It's absolutely insane to me that we should go light on this", he added.

"I'm of the mind that if you purposefully inflict another with a disease that alters their lifestyle the rest of their life, puts them on a regimen of medications to maintain any normalcy, it should be a felony", he said during the floor debate, as cited by Los Angeles Times.

Between 1988 and 2014, at least 800 people were either arrested, charged, or otherwise came into contact with the criminal justice system in relation to their HIV status, a study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles found, the Associated Press reports.

Anderson was not the only one who met the measure with resistance. Sen. Stone, a pharmacist, said that Democrats' arguments about those taking their medication have lower risks of spreading the virus are not so accurate. The senator said three out of four people who are on prescription medication in the United States do not comply with their doctor's orders on how to take it.

The statutes that the new laws revise date back to the late 1980s, when AIDS had emerged as a public health crisis in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and NY.

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