Why Am I Public as a Criminalized HIV-Positive?
When I first became diagnosed with HIV in 2010, it wasn’t the end of the world to me. I was 38 years old back then and for 20 of them I had to relate to HIV in one way or another? I was only 19 the first time I heard that a previous partner of mine had developed AIDS. I puked of anxiety that day.
Later there has been a lot of stories like that. I’ve been lucky I guess? But of course it has forced me to relate to the obvious truth; this might very well happen to me some day. And so it did. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not happy I got HIV, I’m just happy that when I did it was in 2010 because of all the knowledge we have today.
What I didn’t know was how people with HIV could be prosecuted and convicted despite all that knowledge and new medication. Despite that adults agree to a sexual relationship with an HIV-positive. Despite that there’s no transmission of the virus.
In my case I was terrified the first time I experienced someone actually threatening me with the police if I didn’t do as I was told. The second time something like that happened I put up a fight and was reported to the police of breaking the penal code 155 which goes like this:
“He who with reasonable grounds to believe he is infected with a serious communicable disease, willfully or negligently infects or expose another to a risk of being infected, shall be punished with imprisonment up to 6 years in cases of willful violation and imprisonment for up to 3 years at negligent violation.” (My translation)
I had no idea what I had coming. Friends turning their backs at me and my family were divided. And most important of all! I had a complete psychological breakdown that required help from professionals to conquer. (I haven’t really ever recovered completely).
But after months of therapy and support from a small group of loyal friends, I was finally ready to make the biggest choice of my life. To fight back at what I could only see as a complete unreasonable system, made to protect the society from more infections, based on a great misunderstanding: That prosecuting people with HIV actually will keep the numbers of new infections down? Or to live the rest of my life knowing that anybody at anytime can take away my dignity and human right to a sexual life. Get real!
I’m not really against the society’s right to prosecute and convict those very few individuals who willfully transmits HIV to a lot of others without getting any kind of consent. But it has to be proven without any reasonable doubt. Not like in many cases today where you are literally screwed in the justice system just because you have HIV.
I decided to go public with my story November 2011. A few months later I’ve been published in the biggest newspaper in Norway, been on the Norwegian Broadcasting corp. (both TV and radio) twice, given interviews to magazines, started my private blog (louisgay72.blogspot.com) and held public speeches several times, about this topic. So what’s happened so far? Not much. Thought I would get a lot of shit thrown at me, but that hasn’t happened? On the contrary, most people support me and say nice things to me? All which make me slowly believe that maybe (just maybe?) the general population are willing to listen to common sense after all?
If the politicians start to believe that they won’t lose their voters even if they try to decriminalizing HIV. Things might go our way after all? I’m sure it’s going to be a while yet before we get there, but I’m slightly optimistic, at least in Norway.
So these days, while I’m waiting for the State attorney office to decide whether they will prosecute me or not, I’m aiming even more for the general public and the politicians nationally and internationally. It’s too late to have any regrets for me. It’s either my way or the HIGHWAY.