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Stigma and punishment

HIV Criminal Transmission

via Facebook

More bad news out of Missouri. Windy City Times this week recounts the tragic story of Michael Johnson, above, sentenced to 30 years in prison for HIV transmission. Our Executive Director, Tom Yates, weighs in:

“There is no scientific basis for laws that criminalize the transmission of HIV. In addition, criminalization actually undermines effective HIV prevention efforts by discouraging HIV testing, because ignorance of one’s status could be a defense to prosecution. Thus, criminalization laws provide a disincentive to HIV testing and treatment for those who are HIV positive. Such laws also place legal responsibility for HIV prevention exclusively on those who are already living with HIV and dilutes the public health message of shared responsibility for sexual health between sexual partners.”