California One Step Closer to ‘Getting to Zero’

The new bill, SB 239, decreases the charge of exposing one to HIV, without disclosing it to the sexual partner, from a felony to a misdemeanor. Authors Senator Scott Wiener and  Assemblyman Todd Gloria brought the bill forward on Friday. The bill they wrote up would also apply to those who give blood, but do not disclose their diagnosis.

“Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals,” Wiener wrote in a statement after the passing vote.

When debated on the floor, the bill was met with some pushback. Senator Joel Anderson argued, “I’m of the mind that if you purposefully inflict another with a disease that alters their lifestyle the rest of their life, puts them on a regimen of medications to maintain any kind of normalcy, it should be a felony.” The senator in fact wanted higher jail time for the act, and wanted it to extend to other contagious diseases like HIV.”

This new change brings the state’s statutes up to date with the current science regarding HIV prevention, treatment and transmission.

The new law realizes an important goal of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and is consistent with current guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice and with California’s “Getting to Zero” HIV transmission reduction strategy.

“Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals,” said Senator Wiener, one of the bill’s authors.

“HIV should be treated like all other serious infectious diseases, and that’s what SB 239 does. 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,” shared Wiener in a statement.

This is a highly controversial bill. Would you want your partner to disclose this information before engaging in any sexual activities? Do you think this bill lowers the chance of an individual with HIV revealing their diagnosis, or actually increases it?

Photo/ Instagram: @toddgloria

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