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Last week we celebrated World AIDS day, and much was made of the new iPrEx findings, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, that medications previously used to treat HIV disease also reduced the risk of transmission of HIV to uninfected people at high risk for infection.  The press release explaining the findings is here.

While the science of HIV is making big advances, the battle against stigma continues unimpeded in many locations.  Last summer an HIV positive man in Michigan was charged with a felony under the state’s bioterrorism law after he got into a fight with his neighbor and bit him during the brawl (the defendant says the incident was part of a long running series of anti-gay harassment).  The bioterrorism charges were dropped but the defendant reached a plea deal on two remaining felony charges, reports the Macomb Daily.  Sentencing is to be held this Wednesday, but the complaining witness (the man who was bitten) has told the media that he may object to the plea deal at sentencing.

In another Michigan case last week, a Detroit Police officer illegally disclosed the HIV status of a man arrested for driving with a suspended license.  The defendant volunteered his HIV status to the police after his arrest because he was worried about getting access to his antiviral medications and was worried that if he went a couple days without them he risked the virus acquiring an immunity to the drugs (something of concern both for him and for the public in general).  The police officer asked for his girl friend’s phone number, which he gave him thinking he’d ask her to bring his medications, but instead the officer disclosed his HIV status to her and informed her that she could file criminal assault and/or attempted murder charges against him  – which she has done.

Michigan’s HIV Confidentiality Law MCL 333.5131 prohibits the disclosure of a person’s HIV test results without the express authorized permission of the person who has tested positive. There are a number of exceptions under the statute, according to Jay Kaplan for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan’s LGBT Project.  Read more about this case here – the reporter, Todd Heywood, did a magnificent job of explaining the illegality of the officer’s disclosure and the systemic nature of the problem of HIV and abuse by law enforcement.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Center for HIV Law & Policy’s Positive Justice Project is doing really important work on a range of issues involving HIV, including the recent release of a legal guide on Ending and Defending the criminalization of HIV.

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  1. New Blog Post: Despite Advances in HIV Transmission Prevention, the Criminalization of HIV Continues http://wp.me/ploC4-KZ

  2. RT @GenderSexLaw: New Blog Post: Despite Advances in HIV Transmission Prevention, the Criminalization of HIV Continues http://wp.me/ploC4-KZ

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