Criminalizing the HIV-Positive Community

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August 9, 2012

"There are still countless jurisdictions in which it is essentially a crime to be a sexually active HIV-positive man," writes Ari Ezra Waldman in Towleroad. "In some states, individuals with HIV can be convicted of crimes of varying degrees, with penalties exceeding 10 or 20 years in jail, if they have sex without first disclosing their HIV status. And that is true even if they practice safe sex, are taking antiretroviral medications, have undetectable viral loads, and/or are on the receptive side of the sexual encounter, four factors that when combined make it almost impossible to transmit the virus.

"Lambda Legal's Scott Schoettes, Director of the organization's HIV Project, and his colleague, Christopher Clark, represent one of the many victims of these antiquated laws. Their client, Nick Rhoades, a 34-year-old gay Iowan, was sentenced to 25 years in prison, a punishment Mssrs. Schoettes and Clark got down to time served, despite having sex in a context that made it almost impossible to transmit the HIV virus. But, those 4 years of time served included weeks of solitary confinement, among other humiliations."

Read the full article here.

Learn more about the Rhoades case here.

More about HIV criminalization here and here.