In California, a major piece of legislation was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on Friday. Knowingly exposing someone to HIV without disclosing the infection has been reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor in California. This new measure also pertains to people who give blood without telling the blood bank that they are HIV-positive.
The authors of the bill, State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) say the advancements in medicine allows HIV-positive folks to live longer lives and nearly eliminate the possibility of transmission. This along with harsh penalty laws didn’t add up for those who supported the bill.
“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. “HIV should be treated like all other serious infectious diseases, and that’s what SB 239 does.”
Wiener further argued that harsh penalty laws might convince someone to not get tested for HIV because without the test they can’t be charged with a felony if they expose a partner. “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.