Over the past several years, there have been an increasing number of reported cases of HIV-positive people being charged with criminal transmission of HIV to others. We asked you what you thought. Here’s what some of you said…
Patricia M. Clark, Kalamazoo, MI, diagnosed in 1991
These laws were created out of fear and ignorance. Hep C attacks the liver and can eventually cause death, yet there are no laws surrounding it. It also promotes the idea that HIV-positive people are out there, infecting others as maliciously as possible. Yes, we have all heard the extreme cases where this seems to be true, but for the most part, it is way off. Transmission among those who are living with HIV and do not know it would seem to me to be a higher social problem.
Jack R. Miller, Jersey City, NJ, diagnosed in 1994
Do I feel people deserve jail time and a lifetime criminal record for transmitting HIV to someone else? NO! I want them to do a two-year community service sentence in an area where HIV/AIDS rates are high and resources are next to none or non-existent. But being sexually active, I feel that if people are of sound mind and body, then they’re responsible for protecting themselves and their sexual partners.
Nick Nicholas, Jackson, MS, diagnosed in 2007
In biblical times, lepers were required to call out “unclean, unclean” to those who approached in order to warn them away. Today, I am required by law to disclose my HIV status to any potential sexual partner. I think of this as the modern day version of that, and many do run in terror when I disclose my status. These laws serve only to further stigmatize those of us living with HIV/AIDS.
Martell Randolph, Los Angeles, diagnosed in 2000
Criminalizing those who are HIV positive does nothing to eradicate the public perception of HIV as a death sentence. People living with HIV are living healthy and productive lives and contributing to society as a whole—just like people who are negative. To equate just having HIV with committing a criminal act is more indicative of the perception of HIV, rather than its actual relationship to a criminal act.