The crime of knowingly exposing a sexual partner to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) without disclosing the condition will be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor in California after Governor Jerry Brown signed the legislation Oct. 6. The bill, SB 239,
also includes HIV-positive blood or semen donors who don’t disclose
No communicable disease besides HIV carries a felony charge for exposure without disclosure. The previous law included a maximum jail time of eight years, while SB 239 lowers the jail time to a maximum of six months.
SB 239 was introduced to combat current legislative discrimination against people who are HIV-positive, according to Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who co-wrote the bill with Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D-San Diego).
“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 press release from the California State Senate. “HIV should be treated like all other serious infectious diseases, and that’s what SB 239 does.”
According to a press release from Gloria, due to advancements in medicine, previous legislation was outdated and unfairly criminalized and stigmatized people living with HIV. The document also cites research that suggests people with HIV who undergo consistent and effective treatment, have an extremely low chance of transmitting
“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.
The legislation will go into effect starting Jan. 1, 2018.