Intense Backlash After New California Law Reduces Knowingly Exposing Partner To HIV From Felony To Misdemeanor

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 19:  California governor Jerry Brown looks on during a ribbon cutting ceremony to open the new Dell research and development facility on October 19, 2011 in Santa Clara, California.  California governor Jerry Brown and Dell Chairman and CEO Michael Dell attended a ribbon cutting to open the new Dell research and development facility that was followed by a career fair to hire hundreds of employees for the new facilty.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Intense Backlash After New California Law Reduces Knowingly Exposing Partner To HIV From Felony To Misdemeanor

Here's why some activists say this change is a step in the right direction.

Published October 9, 2017

New California legislation saying it will no longer be a felony to knowingly expose a sexual partner to HIV has become the source of widespread debate. 

On Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation into effect. Before the law, knowingly exposing someone to HIV was a felony crime punishable by up to eight years in prison. However, the new law will reclassify the act as a misdemeanor, which can result in a maximum of six months in jail, reports CNN. In addition, the new law also reduces the penalty for knowingly donating HIV-infected blood.

“Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals,” Sen. Scott Wiener told the LA Times.

  1. Although the law was put forth to treat HIV as a public health issue instead of a crime, many people spoke out against the legislation
  2. However, others have cited pro-LGBT groups showing the issue is not solely based in California
  3. The Black AIDS Institute applauded the move as a step towards ending the AIDS epidemic

    “Stigma is a critical barrier to ending the AIDS epidemic and decriminalization is an important step in fighting stigma,” Phill Wilson, CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, told The Root. “People are not going to get tested and they’re not going to disclose and they’re not going to seek treatment in an environment where HIV is criminalized, and so this new law is extremely important in efforts to end the AIDS epidemic in California.”

    Wilson added, “If we really want to prevent HIV infection, then getting people treatment is not only the best, it’s really the only way for us to protect people.” 

Written by Rachel Herron

(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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