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It’s No Longer a Felony to Knowingly Infect Someone with HIV-AIDS in California

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Published on: October 10, 2017

In the land of fruits, nuts and flakes, aka the State of California, the legislative body, along with Governor Jerry Brown, is proving their worth when it comes to idiocy.

From legislating the State as a “sanctuary” state for illegal alien invaders to criminalizing long-term care facility workers for using the wrong pronoun when addressing LGBTQrsuvxyz individuals, the intelligent brain cells of these individuals have truly been killed, not by an excess of alcohol or drugs, but by an excessive amount of disengagement from reality.

In the latest round of legislation, the State of California passed a bill, which Governor Jerry Brown signed on Friday, decriminalizing exposing an individual to HIV without disclosing the infection – instead of a felony, it is now a misdemeanor.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, “The measure also applies to those who give blood without telling the blood bank that they are HIV-positive.”

The rationale for this change in legislation, according to State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), the authors of the bill, is the advancement of modern medicine that allows individuals with HIV to live longer and the advancement in medical science that nearly eliminates the possibility of transmission.   The operative word here is “nearly.”

These two “lawmakers” did not cite any study that substantiated their claims.

A bit of research produced this published study which appeared in August 2013.

After laboring through the text, checking the sources, and then looking at the acknowledgements, the conclusion drawn by this writer is this entire study attempted to reconcile the law with health and social issues.

This is not to imply this study was used by the legislative body of the State of California;  however, several points present in the study are re-stated by the authors of the bill, which is now law in the land of fruits, nuts, and flakes.

Not being a lawyer, but a simple layperson, it comes to mind this new law makes “murder by disease” similar to driving while intoxicated without causing injury to another.

Let me explain.

While taking extended professional classes in forensic nursing, one particular class taught the determination of an individual’s death can be very important for law enforcement when applying the law.  An individual receives a gunshot wound to the abdomen, lives, receives treatment and goes home.  The individual then expires a few weeks later.  Upon examination, the individual died from a pulmonary embolism (blood clot that developed somewhere else in the body then traveled to the lungs blocking blood flow).  Further medical examination finds the blood clot initiated in the abdomen from the gunshot wound.  The cause of death is the pulmonary embolism created by the gunshot wound to the abdomen, changing the nature of the crime to homicide.

While medical science may have resulted in individuals infected with HIV/AIDS living longer, the disease itself still causes death.  Moreover, while claims of studies purporting to show the “near” elimination of the possibility of HIV transmission exists, one should consider that at one time medical science though it safe to give thalidomide to pregnant women in the late 50s and 60s.  Later, medical science determined thalidomide damaged unborn children.

This 2013 study is premised on the researchers’ assumption the laws criminalizing the transmission of HIV/AIDS is somehow linked to preventing the transmission of HIV/AIDS.  That is not the purpose of the law.  The law is there to punish criminal behavior and exact justice upon those who violate others.  Should not those who knowingly inflict injury and/or death upon others receive justice under the law whether it is by passing on a deadly disease intentionally, knowingly feeding someone arsenic, or stabbing someone in the chest purposefully?  The answer should be “yes”.  But, not in California.

The Los Angeles Times continued:

“Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals,” Wiener said in a statement. “HIV should be treated like all other serious infectious diseases, and that’s what SB 239 does.”

Supporters of the change said the current law requires an intent to transmit HIV to justify a felony, but others noted cases have been prosecuted where there was no physical contact, so there was an argument intent was lacking.

Brown declined to comment on his action.

HIV has been the only communicable disease for which exposure is a felony under California law. The current law, Wiener argued, may convince people not to be tested for HIV, because without a test they cannot be charged with a felony if they expose a partner to the infection.

“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.

Wiener is under the impression that HIV/AIDS has not been treated as a public health issue.  It is and has been treated that way since it was discovered.  No one has treated individuals who have or are living with HIV/AIDS as criminals unless the individual knowingly and intentionally infected others or attempted to infect others with the deadly disease. It’s the same as treating an individual who knowingly and intentionally stabbed someone with a knife as a criminal.  HIV/AIDS is treated like other serious infectious diseases.  Individuals receive care and treatment upon diagnosis.  However, what SB 239 did was downgrade the commission of a felony to a misdemeanor.

A change in the law is not going to “convince” anyone to receive testing for HIV.  Read again what Wiener asserted:  “without a test they cannot be charged with a felony if they expose a partner to the infection.”  So, Wiener asserted that people don’t get tested so they are not charged with a felony.  In reality, individuals do not seek testing for HIV for various reasons, not because they are worried about a felony charge.  Many individuals are unaware of an infection with HIV/AIDS until hospitalized for another problem caused by the disease, such as pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, or another rare bacterial infection.  Still others are diagnosed when presenting with flu-like symptoms resulting in testing for a variety of causative processes when the symptoms do not abate.  Wiener is dealing in apples and oranges.  It is not until after someone is diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and that person knowingly and intentionally infects another or attempts to infect another with the disease that a crime is committed.

Medical science still cannot explain why some individuals exposed to HIV/AIDS retrovirus take years to develop the disease while others contract it in less time and still others never develop the disease at all.  It makes contact with the HIV/AIDS retrovirus a spin of the roulette wheel.

It would be best if individuals would engage in personal responsibility.  However, society has degraded to such a point that some individuals refuse to accept responsibility for their actions or themselves.  An individual with HIV/AIDS has the personal responsibility to prevent transmission to others.  However, that does not happen in all cases.  The only other protection innocent individuals have is the law and their personal responsibility to not engage in risky behaviors.

And, physical contact does not have to happen in order for the transmission of HIV/AIDS to occur – sharing of needles does not involve personal contact and neither does a blood or plasma transfusion.  All of this is premised on the definition of “physical contact.”  As we know with some individuals, definitions change with the wind.

According to The Los Angeles Times:

Supporters of the bill said women engaging in prostitution are disproportionately targeted with criminal charges, even in cases where the infection is not transmitted.

Republican lawmakers including Sen. Joel Anderson of Alpine voted against the bill, arguing it puts the public at risk.

“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,” Anderson said during the floor debate. “It’s absolutely crazy to me that we should go light on this.”

Anderson said the answer could be to extend tougher penalties to those who expose others to other infectious diseases.

If a woman has HIV/AIDS, knows she has the infection, and engages in prostitution, the woman is knowingly and intentionally exposing a “john” to infection with HIV/AIDS, meaning he could develop the disease and ultimately die.  How is this not deserving of a criminal charge?  Transmission of the infection may not appear for years in some individuals or not at all.  It’s a chance.  It’s unreasonable to say a crime is not being committed when the infection is not transmitted via prostitution.  Unless health services follow these “johns” for the rest of their life, how do supporters of this bill, now law, know the infection has not been transmitted?  And, should that matter when the offender knows there is a possibility of infecting another individual but engages in the behavior anyway, putting the other individual at risk of losing their life?

Considering that contraction of this disease ultimately results in death, how can one not consider knowingly and intentionally engaging in behavior with another that could result in that person’s death not be considered a crime?  How could one not consider an individual with HIV/AIDS knowingly and intentionally donating blood for transfusion to another a crime?

Wiener and supporters act as though individuals with HIV/AIDS are lacking counseling upon diagnosis about avoiding infecting others.  Individuals diagnosed with HIV/AIDS receive extensive counseling about transmission and refraining from activities, such as sexual activity and blood donation, which could result in the infection of others.  Some follow the counseling recommendations while others do not.

Yes, HIV/AIDS is a health issue as well as a social one.  And, yes, health and social measures are in place to help prevent further spread of the deadly disease.  Medical science is not exact.  It isn’t called the “practice of medicine” because every microbe, virus, mold and bacteria is understood or there is a remedy for it.  But, we are not talking about the disease itself, we are talking about the evil intent of humans.  And some individuals with HIV/AIDS are inflicting evil intent upon others.  Until the evil intent of humans is erased, laws are in place to punish evildoers and exact justice upon them.

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