California Lessens Penalty For Knowingly Transmitting HIV

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California has determined HIV is not a serious threat as it once was.

Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a landmark piece of legislation which reforms the Golden State’s laws concerning HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Supporters of the reforms praised the state for removing draconian laws that unfairly criminalized people living with HIV.

“Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals,” said Senator Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, in a news release dated Oct. 6. “HIV should be treated like all other serious infectious diseases, and that’s what SB 239 does. We are going to end the new HIV infections and we will do so not by threatening people with state prison time, but rather getting people to test and providing them access to care.”

The Centers for Disease Control confirmed last month that HIV-positive individuals with undetectable viral loads cannot transmit the virus to HIV-negative partners during sexual intercourse. Advances in modern medicine have made HIV a manageable condition that, if treated properly, positive people can live long lives.

LGBT organizations applauded California for leading the way to update its HIV laws. It is now no longer a felony to knowingly expose a sexual partner to HIV. The reforms also cover blood donations.

“With his signature, Governor Brown has moved California’s archaic HIV laws out of the 1980s and into the 21st Century,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, in a news release. “SB 239 will do much to reduce stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV — it is not only fair, but it is good public health. When people are no longer penalized for knowing their status, it encourages them to come forward, get tested and get treatment. That’s good for all Californians.”

Public health activists have long declared criminalizing people with the virus was a barrier to testing, treating and healing. HIV negative individuals now have access to a once-a-day pill, known as PrEP, which has been shown to block HIV transmission in 99 percent of cases.

 


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