November #107 : Sayonara, Suckers - by Jennifer Block

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Table of Contents

Vote '04-Who’s better for people with HIV?

Vote '04-We Have Issues

Vote '04-4 More Years?!?

Vote '04-Who Ya For?

Vote '04-Full-Frontal Election

Vote '04-Hot Seats


Back to School

When Life Hands You Lemons...

One Hot Tomato

Microbicide Update

Sayonara, Suckers

Waiting to Exhale

Pos & Neg

Fit to Print

Website of the Month


Meet Your Host


In Stores-and In Store

Brush With Nausea

Rebel With a Cause

A Woman’s Guide to Living With HIV Infection

Those Other Pills

Marijuana Mama

Found a cure

Founder's Letter


Senior Class


Inside Story

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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November 2004

Sayonara, Suckers

by Jennifer Block

Florida’s new snare tactic for HIV positive sex workers

Call it Law & Order: HIV. Florida’s Delray Beach police force and state attorney have teamed to lengthen jail time for street prostitutes, known for their skill in auto(mobile) fellatio. The cops’ M.O.: arrest sex workers offering up their services, goad them into confessing their HIV status, then charge them with criminal transmission of HIV—a felony offense in Florida and 23 other states. “[Jail] is a revolving door for a lot of these ladies,” says Palm Beach County Assistant State Attorney Uriel Neto; by dusting off a rarely used 10-year-old statute, he can impose a maximum five-year sentence in order to “send a message.”

Cops posing as punani patrons need not have sex or be tested (unlike the prostitutes) to “prove” transmission. To convict, the law requires only that the sex worker confess to knowing his or her status. “It’s the same type of interview technique used in a murder case,” he says. With four convictions already won and another pending, other Florida counties are eyeing his pilot program to see how it fares.

Prevention advocates’ worries transcend the obvious civil rights issues. Such interrogation, they say, would liken getting tested to turning oneself in. “The more we criminalize high-risk behavior, the more we drive the epidemic underground,” says Gene Copello, executive director of the AIDS Institute, a DC and Florida policy group that opposes the ho-down. Never mind that most of the johns are asking for only low-risk oral sex. “I don’t need to say [transmission occurred] with scientific certainty,” Neto explains. “It makes my job a lot easier.”

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