Virginia lawmakers consider change to HIV exposure law
February 28 2004 12:00 AM ET
The Virginia assembly is considering a bill that would change the state's HIV exposure law to make it easier to bring criminal charges against HIV-positive people who do not disclose to sex partners that they have the virus, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. The bill, already approved by the state house, is awaiting a hearing by the senate courts of justice committee. Virginia's current law requires prosecutors to prove that an HIV-positive person was knowingly trying to infect someone with the virus for the act to be criminal. The new bill would delete the intent requirement from the law.
"Intent is very difficult to prove," said state house delegate Kathy Byron, a Republican, who sponsored the bill to change the law. "I believe we need to go further in the law and make sure that an individual carrying [HIV] has the responsibility to let folks know he can infect."
If the bill is passed and signed into law, it would make not disclosing one's HIV status to a sex partner a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of $2,500, or both. AIDS activists oppose the change, saying it would make people unwilling to take HIV antibody tests because the law would apply only to people who know they are HIV-positive and don't disclose their serostatus.