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HIV/AIDS Patients To Be Charged With Rape If Infection Is Not Disclosed To Their Sexual Partners?

First Posted: Feb 25, 2017 03:00 AM EST
HIV/AIDS
The HB 39- Sexual Offenses and Statutory Nonconsent Amendments bill was put on hold.
(Photo : kleptoplast/YouTube screenshot)

The HB 39 bill amendment, sponsored by Rep. Justin Fawson (North Ogden), was put on hold for further review. The bill urges that HIV-positive patients who hide about their condition to establish sexual relationships with one or multiple partners will be charged with rape. Although the bill is supposed to discourage unsafe sex among people, both HIV-positive and negative, most of the members of the committee believed that criminalizing such act will most likely discourage people to get tested for HIV.

Expert members of the committee gave their opinions on the bill (both for and against), and after considering them all, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to put a hold on the bill. Troy Williams, the executive director of Equality Utah organization, said that the bill is a rather "punitive approach," which will help in denouncing HIV/AIDS patients.

According to Utah Political Capitol, while Rep. Karianne Lisonbee (Clearfield) said that the bill is fine the way it is, most others, including Rep. Brian King (Salt Lake City), Rep. Brian Greene (Pleasant Grove) and Ron Gordon, Executive Director, Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, testified that the bill needs to be modified. Though all of them agreed that something needs to be done in this regard, the HB 39 bill has taken it too far, which is why if passed, it may lead to more problems than providing solutions to the existing ones.

The committee concluded that categorizing sexual act between an HIV-positive person and a negative individual as statutory rape can have dire consequences for the HIV patient, Deseret News Utah reported. Representative Greene advised that the statutory proposed in the bill is itself problematic. Intentionally putting the life of another person under risk by sexually transmitting the virus is justified to be categorized as a criminal act, but it does not mean it is "rape," the committee members remarked.

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