Being HIV-poz, gay and living in southern Africa (with a huge amount of HIV-poz people in general) makes this a very compelling issue.
I'd say for myself that I've been open about my HIV-positive status since testing poz, and I make sure I have witnesses while disclosing my status
before it even gets to bedroom politics (which hasn't been often, and has never been unsafe).
This is also what I've made newly HIV-poz people aware of in some past threads, because the legal issues are threatening to overwhelm a safe sex
message for all in some countries.
That being said, in SA there has been some debate about whether we need such a law to specifically criminalize HIV non-disclosure.
There are current laws on attempted murder or assault that have only recently caused some potential test cases, however HIV will actually have to be
provably transmitted, and knowingly and deliberately transmitted.
There is no real law on non-disclosure itself.
Currently the position against such a law seems more sensible, mainly for the following reasons:
- HIV has been a national emergency in SA and the region.
The aim has been to reduce stigma and to offer treatment, and to encourage testing.
Public health response is seen as dependent on people knowing their HIV-status.
To put a special onus on HIV-positive people leading to criminalization is not an encouragement to know your status.
In fact, it has been difficult to get people to test.
Even in Western countries the people who are untested often outnumber the positive people who have tested.
To criminalize knowing your status into the bedroom creates further fear, and an active reason for already frightened people not to know their
Despite much media attention to cases of people knowingly spreading HIV, most HIV is spread ignorantly by people who do not know their status.
People who do know their status actually did the right thing by getting tested, and that greater public good should not be discouraged.
Basically those laws suggest that as long as one is ignorant of one's status and hasn't tested, then one can do as one likes.
- All people have a duty to protect themselves from HIV and STDs, and other unwanted risks of sex.
HIV-negative people should protect themselves from infection, and poz people should protect themselves from re-infection with another strain, or
another STD infection.
- Countries or states that have laws on deliberate infections have a low success rate of prosecutions, since ultimately it's a he said/she said
scenario (or a he said/he said).
Yet, they have clear cases where such laws have led to human rights abuses.
For example, prisoners held for biting or spitting (now known to be mainly theoretically risky, but not practically).
Cases where people did not know the law and had sex with a condom, and no HIV was transmitted. This frequently applies to newly diagnosed people who
did not know the law in all states or countries.
The worst is probably relationships where there was a clear intent to blackmail from the start, and an attempt to be discreet made it unsure or
unclear to witnesses what was known to either partner.
There are cases where a negative ex-partner suddenly accuses a positive partner of "non-disclosure", which can be fought in court, but it's a 30-year
prison term hanging over the positive partner's head.
My advice is to be open and to scream it from the rooftops.
At least legally, the more openly HIV-poz people are, the safer we are.
Just to conclude I'd say that better medical treatments are not a good reason to make or repeal laws.
I'd always consider consent, and the intention should be to allow all people to consent fully with what they are doing.
That is also where HIV information should be clear on the risks for various behaviors and risks (currently what defines "sex" is not entirely clear
I'd like to see true psychopaths who spread it deliberately taken out of society.
To that effect I'd also like to see condoms and clean needles in prisons.
However, I'd also like to see equal responsibility for all consenting adults.
I'd also like more discussion on safe sex in marriage, and that a wife must not be a martyr for some religion or culture when she knows her husband is
philandering or poz.
I'd like religions to make condoms as legally relevant as the courts.
I'd like a way for both HIV-poz and negative people to work together.
Currently there's a huge re-appraisal of what is risky or not.
A lot of current laws are dated, and there's huge debates on the actual proof of oral sex transmission, for example.
Nevertheless, a great thread, because a lot of people are not counseled on legal issues when going for HIV tests in SA, and such threads could be a
The price of one mistake in some countries could be a bigger sentence than HIV itself, especially when laws concern disclosure rather than
edit on 5-10-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)