(Note from Erin: I might not totally agree with this decision but I sympathize with all those currently living with HIV. We cannot imagine how they must feel once they get the news. Keep fighting and stay strong.)


On Friday, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that will make knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV without disclosing the infection, a misdemeanor. The California legislature passed the bill in September and it will take effect on January 1, 2018. When the offense was a felony, people spent up to eight years in prison. This new legislation will lower jail time to a maximum of six months. (The new law also reduces the penalty for knowingly donating HIV-infected blood from a felony to a misdemeanor. 1)

“Bill sponsors Sen. Scott Wiener and Assemblyman Todd Gloria, both Democrats, argued California law was outdated and stigmatized people living with HIV, especially given recent advancements in medicine. Evidence has shown that a person with HIV who undergoes regular treatment has a negligible chance of spreading the infection to others through sexual contact.” 2
Wiener believes that by destigmatizing HIV more people will get tested, which will (somehow) lower HIV transmission in the state. However, not everyone agrees with him, including many Republicans.
“Sen. Jeff Stone voted against the bill and strongly expressed his disapproval in September when the Senate voted on it.
Stone, who is also a pharmacist, took aim at Wiener and Gloria’s argument that modern medicine can lower the spread of HIV. The senator said three out of four people who are on prescription medication in the United States do not comply with their doctor’s orders on how to take it.
‘If you don’t take your AIDS medications and you allow for some virus to duplicate and show a presence, then you are able to transmit that disease to an unknowing partner,’ Stone said on the Senate floor.”3
Another Republican who voted against the bill, Sen. Joel Anderson, argued that the critical issue at play is “intentionality,” saying, “When you intentionally put others at risk, you should have responsibility.”4
But the bill did have its supporters, including Californians for HIV Criminalization Reform (CHCR), Equality California, The Los Angeles LGBT Center, and the ACLU of California, who are all happy to see those suffering from HIV/AIDS get better and equal treatment and see their disease destigmatized.

Sources and References

  1. CNN, October 8, 2017.
  2. CNN, October 8, 2017.
  3. CNN, October 8, 2017.
  4. CNN, October 8, 2017.