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“Fundamentally, HIV is a public health problem, not a criminal justice problem, and it needs to be treated this way.” California law says it’s a felony for an HIV-positive person to have unprotected sex without informing their partner that they are infected.It is also a felony for HIV-positive people to donate blood, body organs or other tissue.There are many reasons and ways in life to deal with this disease, and these laws stop people from speaking honestly about the disease due to fear of criminal punishment.” Advocates for repeal say criminal sentences can be used as leverage against people with HIV in situations like abusive relationships.
Under current law, when people are convicted of prostitution – a misdemeanor in California – they are tested for HIV.
For example, while 40 percent of people living with HIV in California are white men, only 16 percent of people who have had contact with the criminal justice system because of their HIV status are white men.
Only 4 percent of the HIV population are black women, but they make up 21 percent of those who have dealt with the criminal justice system due to their HIV status.
“Talking to others who support these laws, I’ve seen that it’s not from any malicious intent,” Rogel said.
“It’s just that most people don’t understand the current science and are afraid of it spreading.
Knowingly transmitting other communicable diseases, including other sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes and hepatitis, are charged as misdemeanors under California state law.