California introduces SB239

Currently, under California state law it is a felony to knowingly expose others to HIV or AIDS by engaging in unprotected sex without telling your partner about it. You can receive up to seven years of jail time if found guilty.

Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and other lawmakers are on a mission to change that. The California law change would bring the charge down from a felony to a misdemeanor. The same downgrade in crime level would also apply to people who donate blood or semen without telling the blood or semen bank that they have tested positive for HIV or AIDS.

“Having HIV does not make you a criminal and we shouldn’t be singling out HIV among all infectious diseases for harsher treatment,” said Wiener. “It’s very discriminatory, ” he added.

Now the big question, should this bill be passed? What if you were born with HIV? You take all the necessary precautions (take your medications and practice safe sex) and your partner contracts HIV. Do you deserve to be charged as a felon? Let’s take it a step further, what if you are in a relationship and bae cheats on you, gives you the disease, and out of anger you press charges. Should he do time for cheating?

But should someone who intentionally passes on the disease receive a slap on the wrist? According to Senator Joel Anderson…

“Because they are so disrespectful of the people they are willing to engage in a sexual act with and risk their life, that is the reason why they need to go to prison,” Anderson said. “They can’t be trusted in society as a responsible person.” 

Now if you are thinking, “Damn that’s kind of harsh,” you might be where I’m at. On the one hand,  I understand why this should remain a felony. If someone decides to seek revenge and purposely infects others they should be punished.

But here is where it gets interesting if a person were to knowingly infect someone with Herpes or Hepatitis (also communicable diseases) it would be a misdemeanor, not a felony in California.

Of the 357 convictions in California, a vast majority of them were prostitutes. Under current law, if a person is convicted of prostitution it is a misdemeanor. In California, they test for HIV if that test is positive and that same person is arrested again they can be charged with a felony.

This is a slippery slope if the bill is passed people will no longer live in fear of going to jail because they have HIV. However making a law to protect the innocent will also protect the guilty. So the question remains, should the bill be passed? Currently, the bill has not been passed and with so many strong arguments on each side, I’m not sure if it will pass anytime soon.

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