Around the web, including this clip from CNN.



I don't know the right way to handle this kind of reckless and irresponsible behavior.  There are several issues in the story's reporting that bother me -

I say an article that said David Magnum infected 300 others with HIV.  Sorry I don't have the link.  However, there is no evidence that he infected anyone other than his now former partner, who may have been infected by someone else.

As far as I know, the only one who said Magnum had more than 300 partners, was Magnum.  I know that's possible - but how do we know he's not exaggerating?

Assuming that someone who is HIV+ does have unprotected sex with others, and they either seroconvert or not - should that be a legal offense with a prison sentence? 

I don't know the answers.  I think anyone who is having unprotected sex, gay or straight, outside a monogamous relationship, should have expectation of potential infection (HIV, syphilis, multi-antibiotic resistance gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis B, hepatitis A, hepatitis C, cancer causing HPV viruses, and others) in both directions.  Someone with TB who doesn't wear a mask and coughs in public - they may be spreading a lethal infection to hundreds of others, who don't even know they are at risk.  How is this case with HIV different?

Im interested in what others think.

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Replies to This Discussion

How is an assault any less of an assault if a very small weapon is used?  It's still deadly.

I'm troubled by the criminalization of HIV exposure.  When two consenting adults agree to sexual activity, it is up to each individual to judge their own level of comfort and protection.  It is your personal responsibility to protect yourself.  One must assume that any potential sex partner may have HIV or any other sexuality transmitted disease. 

The fact that this man claims to have had 300 sex partners really is a moot point.  No matter how many partners he potentially exposed to HIV, the other person still had the ultimate responsibility for their own protection.  It's one thing to be exposed to HIV through rape or unsolicited sex, but quite another to willingly participate in sexual activity without using protection.  The risks are yours to judge. 

HIV/AIDS is not the death sentence it once was.  It is now a manageable, treatable disease with people living normal lifespans.  (That may be one of the reasons why people have become complacent in protecting themselves, which is a whole other topic of discussion.)  I don't believe any jail time is a reasonable response in this situation.  Was the guy morally reckless for not disclosing his HIV status?  Yes.  Were his partners equally reckless by not using protection?  Yes.  Magnum also could have lied and told people he was HIV-negative.  That still doesn't remove any personal responsibility to protect your self. 

I've read news articles about HIV-positive people who are thrown in jail under HIV criminalization laws for biting police officers or just for spitting on them. 

Prison for Man With H.I.V. Who Spit on a Police Officer

HIV-Positive Man Charged with Aggravated Assault for Spitting on Po...

HIV positive woman gets 3 years for spitting

And here's a well-known case from Iowa about a young man sentenced to prison even though he used protection and didn't transmit HIV to his partner.  This is quite a sad story and a legal injustice.   

Imprisoned over HIV: One man's story

It appears that HIV criminalization laws need to be updated to reflect our current knowledge of HIV/AIDS. 

Not true that people are now living "normal lifespans" with HIV.  They live longer (in the West) but it still shortens their life. 

And if someone actually lies about being HIV positive, their partner could reasonably trust them and decide not to use a condom.  It's still criminal if they get infected. 

If someone leaves their door unlocked and the house is burglarized, it's still a criminal act.

I don't know about spitting on someone - it's probably rare to get HIV that way. 

Suppose exposing someone to HIV without informing them of the hazard, is decriminalized. 

Would you feel comfortable with the legal loophole created this way?

Think of someone who's been diagnosed with HIV, who's bitter and depressed and decides to kill as many people as they can by having unprotected sex - and they get away with it, because this is no longer a criminal act. 

They would have discovered a good way to cause terrible damage and get away with it. 

Someone with TB who doesn't wear a mask and coughs in public - they may be spreading a lethal infection to hundreds of others, who don't even know they are at risk.

Also not OK to spread a deadly infection, either with deliberate malice or negligently.

There's a general attitude of not being responsible for not transmitting infection.  It used to bother me when I was at work and someone would drag themselves in, very sick, and a few days later, lots of other people would be sick.  There was a cheerful nonchalance about this - share and share alike, haha you're coughing like crazy, haha you're sick in bed, it's to be laughed off because it's temporary. 

Not that someone who does this should go to jail - but it isn't right to propagate sickness any more than you have to. 

There's also a moral duty to get the recommended vaccinations, to prevent deadly diseases from spreading. 

Driving is a good analogy.  There are graduated penalties (in the USA) for more and more dangerous driving.  Driving while in a normal alert state of consciousness with insurance is legal, even though you are risking people's lives to some extent.  Driving somewhat over the speed limit can get you a ticket, driving a lot over the speed limit or drunk could land you in jail. 

anyone who is having unprotected sex, gay or straight, outside a monogamous relationship, should have expectation of potential infection

You can get infected at the start of a monogamous relationship especially if your partner deceives you about the diseases they're carrying,  Being burdened for life even with a non-deadly disease is probably worse than being burglarized - so shouldn't the punishment be worse? 

Perhaps keeping people who recklessly endanger others, away from others is the best option. 

I wnder if more people dont die from influenza but nobody arrests you for coughing uncovered and peope still dont get their shots. And those deaths are fast - days or weeks, not years.

It seems to me there is an aspect of gay men as the boogie man but other cases of infectious disease with equal or worse consequences are not treated the same way.

It seems to me there is an aspect of gay men as the boogie man

I was wondering if you were reacting to it that way.  But, it seems to me that penalizing people who consciously transmit HIV, also protects gay men.  It's still quite a burden to live with HIV even if you get a lot of good years with medication. 

Is HIV still a gay thing in people's minds?  I don't think of it that way, it seems to me anyone can get it.  I associate HIV with prostitutes.

You're still at some risk even using a condom, if you have sex with an HIV positive person, so definitely they have a duty to inform you. 

The CDC  says HIV infection is, by far, the most deadly STD.



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