A former San Francisco health commissioner who allegedly lied to an ex-boyfriend about his HIV status is the first person charged under a California law that makes it a felony to deliberately expose another person to the virus. Following an indictment by a grand jury last week, Ronald Gene Hill, 46, was arrested on Tuesday in Grass Valley, Calif., according to Mark MacNamara, a spokesman for the San Francisco district attorney's office. Hill was scheduled to be arraigned in San Francisco Friday.
Hill, who served on the health commission from 1997 to 2000, is the first person to be arrested under a 1998 state law making it a crime to knowingly and intentionally expose another person to HIV. "Because this is the first case to be tried of its kind, it presents many difficulties, but the evidence to the grand jury was compelling enough to indict him," MacNamara said.
In March 2002 a San Francisco judge imposed a $5 million default judgment against Hill to be awarded to Hill's former lover, Thomas Lister. Baron Drexel, Lister's attorney in the civil suit, said that Lister had been dating the former health commissioner for about five months and that the couple was taking a cruise in July 2000 when he discovered medical records indicating Hill was taking HIV drugs. The couple earlier had discussed their negative HIV status and both agreed to an HIV test prior to sex, said Drexel. Hill told Lister he was negative. After the trip Lister tested positive. He sued in January 2001. Hill disappeared during the civil trial, and Lister never received any money, Drexel said.