Brown signs bill reducing penalties for HIV transmission


California Governor Jerry Brown has now signed a bill lowering the punishment for HIV positive people who knowingly have unprotected sex with partners without telling them about their infection.

Intentionally infecting a partner with HIV will now be considered a misdemeanor, not a felony, in California. In 24 states, laws require persons who are aware that they have HIV to disclose their status to sexual partners and 14 states require disclosure to needle-sharing partners.

Bill sponsors say HIV current medications considerably lower risk of infection.

The bill was among several pieces of legislation Gov. "I want to thank Governor Brown for his support in helping to put California at the forefront of a national movement to reform these discriminatory laws". Brown signed it. It was authored by state Sen. Scott Wiener and Assemblyman Todd Gloria to fight against the "outdated" California law.

Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener and Assemblyman Todd Gloria, coauthors the legislation, argued that modern medicine has changed the lifespan of HIV-infected persons and almost eliminates the change of transmission. Weiner said in a statement that its passage represents 'a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals'.

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The bill will take effect on January 1, 2018. This new legislation will lower jail time to a maximum of six months.

Gloria added: "State law will no longer discourage Californians from getting tested for HIV".

The majority of laws identified for the analysis were passed before studies showed that antiretroviral therapy (ART) reduces HIV transmission risk and most do not account for HIV prevention measures that reduce transmission risk, such as condom use, ART, or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

'When people are no longer penalized for knowing their status, it encourages them to come forward, get tested and get treatment. "It's absolutely insane to me that we should go light on this".

SB 239 updates California criminal law to approach transmission of HIV in the same way as transmission of other serious communicable diseases.

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The law previously punished people who knowingly exposed or infected others with HIV by up to eight years in prison.

Sen. Wiener described the current law as "extreme".

"We are going to end new HIV infections, and we will do so not by threatening people with state prison time, but rather by getting people to test and providing them access to care", Wiener said.

The bill was rejected by many Republicans, who argued the measure could lead to an increase in HIV infections. According to senator Joel Anderson, intentionally inflicting someone with a disease that "alters their lifestyle the rest of their life" and requires them to be on regular medication that prevents them from maintaining "any kind of normalcy" should be a felony.

It's also important that people who know they are HIV infected not knowingly infect others through sexual contact.

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