Former S.F. health commissioner pleads not guilty to spreading HIV
Former San Francisco health commissioner Ronald Gene Hill, 46, on Thursday pleaded not guilty to deliberately exposing two people to HIV. Hill was arrested and jailed on $100,000 bond on September 17, five days after a grand jury indicted him. Hill's former lover, Thomas Lister, 38, sued Hill in 2001 for lying about his HIV-positive status when they were dating in 2000. The suit claimed that Lister discovered, while the two were on a cruise in July 2000, that Hill was taking anti-HIV medications. Several months later Lister tested positive for HIV. Lister was awarded $5 million in a civil suit in March 2002.
Hill is now charged under a seldom-used 1998 California law that makes knowingly and intentionally exposing others to HIV a felony, punishable by up to eight years in prison. Twenty-five states have such laws; California's requires prosecutors to prove the defendant acted "with specific intent" to transmit the infection. Lister and another man told the grand jury that Hill exhibited a pattern of soliciting sex partners and repeatedly telling them he was not infected. Hill's bail hearing will be held September 30.