Thursday, 4 November 2010

Positive Justice Project

One of those stories that I picked up late and then didn't get around to blogging about was the launch of the Positive Justice Project at the end of September. The focus of the POSITIVE JUSTICE PROJECT is the repeal of "HIV criminalization" statutes — laws that create HIV-specific crimes or which increase penalties for persons who are HIV positive and convicted of criminal offenses. A press release for the Project highlights a series of recent US cases:

• A man with HIV in Texas who is now serving 35 years for spitting at a police officer;

• A man with HIV in Iowa, who had an undetectable viral load, was sentenced to 25 years after a one-time sexual encounter during which he used a condom;

• A woman with HIV in Georgia, who was sentenced to eight years imprisonment for failing to disclose her viral status, despite it having been published on the front page of the local newspaper and two witnesses who testified her sexual partner was aware of her HIV positive status;

• And a man with HIV in Michigan who was charged under the state's anti-terrorism statute with possession of a "biological weapon," after an altercation with a neighbor.

In none of the cases cited was HIV transmitted. Actual HIV transmission—or even the intent to infect—is rarely a factor in HIV criminalization cases.

Edwin J Bernard comments on the development on his excellent Criminal HIV Transmission blog. Check it out here.

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Sean Hennelly said...

I actually can't believe these cases- their insane! I have never stumbled across anything like this before, so reading that post was really a slap in the face moment. How on earth people can be getting these utterly insane sentences as a result of being HIV positive is beyond me (not to mention the specific facts, such as the failure to disclose case with the newspaper coverage and the witnesses).

Thanks for posting.

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