Governor signs bill modernizing California's HIV laws

Knowingly exposing others to HIV will no longer be a felony in California

Knowingly exposing others to HIV will no longer be a felony in California

Jerry Brown signed a law Friday reducing the penalty for knowingly exposing someone to HIV from a felony to a misdemeanor. From felony, it was lower to a misdemeanor.

The California legislature passed SB 239 on September 11.

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officially announced that people who are on regular viral load suppression medication can not transmit HIV to their partners, as it is maintained at undetectable levels.

Under the old law, if a person who knows they are infected with HIV has unprotected sex without telling their partner they have the virus, they can be convicted of a felony and face years of jail time.

It was authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D-San Diego). Many conservative lawmakers joined him saying it could lead to an increase in HIV infections. "When people are no longer penalized for knowing their status, it encourages them to come forward, get tested and get treatment".

The change in the law means that it now treats HIV in the same way as it does other communicable diseases.

'State law will no longer discourage Californians from getting tested for HIV, ' Gloria in a statement.

"We are going to end new HIV infections, and we will do so not by threatening people with state prison time, but rather by getting people to test and providing them access to care", Wiener said, as cited by the LA Times.

Comparing HIV with other serious infectious diseases, member of the California State Senate - Scott Wiener said: "HIV should be treated like all other serious infectious diseases, and that's what SB 239 does".

Stone said three out of four people who are on prescription medication on the country do not follow their doctor's guidelines on how to take the drugs. He said it was irresponsible not to disclose the possibility of a life-altering infection.

The bill's opponents said that many patients living with HIV do not take their medications consistently enough to prevent the disease's spread, and focused on the "intentional" component of the previously felony offense. "When you intentionally put others at risk, you should have responsibility".

CNN reached out to both senators for comment but did not hear back.

"California's outdated and draconian HIV criminal laws have disproportionately harmed people of color and transgender women,"said Melissa Goodman, the LGBTQ, Gender and Reproductive Justice Project Director with the ACLU of Southern California".

"Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals", Wiener said. Fear and misinformation about the disease's potential to spread ran high as the authorities struggled to get a handle on the new epidemic and a spate of legislation about HIV exposure cropped up across the country.

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