HIV Non-Disclosure May Not Be A Felony Anymore; California Lawmakers Want To Reduce Liability To Misdemeanor; What Are The Implications?

By Marguerite Chang - 20 Mar '17 05:30AM

People living with HIV would be able to breathe a sigh of relief if the bill of non-disclosure of being with HIV will be passed. The bill, if approved, will lower down the criminal liability of a person living with HIV or human immunodeficiency virus.

Not disclosing that one is living with HIV is currently a felony but if some lawmakers will get their way, this will be downgraded to just a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is considered as the one of the least serious offense that one can commit. The penalty for a misdemeanor will not exceed $100.00 plus the costs incurred in court. A felony is considered the most serious level of offense. Felonies can have a jail term thrown in aside from the penalties.

California lawmakers are pushing for a legislation that will just penalize people living with HIV with a misdemeanor if they do not disclose to their partners that they are HIV positive and if they engage in unprotected sex. In the original law, non-disclosure is warranted as a felony.

Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco), Assemblymen David Chiu (D-San Francisco), Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) and Assemblywoman Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) are pushing for the lowering of the penalty. They are saying that a person living with HIV is stigmatized enough and non-disclosure will just push them "to stay in the shadows" and not seek for help.

There are some people who are opposed to this. Those who oppose believe that if a non-disclosure becomes a misdemeanor, this may pave the way for people living with HIV/AIDS to donate blood or semen not to disclose that they are positive. The opposition is saying that an offense as grave as a non-disclosure will just be a slap on the wrist for people who don't disclose that they are infected.

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