Michigan Townhalls

District Overview
#912
HD-71 constituent affiliated with the Democratic party: Would you modernize Michigan HIV criminalization law?

Most often these laws (such as MCL 333.5201) are utilized to prosecute individuals who have disclosed or have practiced safe sex behaviors. In the prosecution of these laws, criminal intent does not need to be established and often it is a "he said/she said" situation. So individuals with HIV who have disclosed do not get the benefit of the doubt through the courts if their partner says they haven't disclosed.

Not only that, but we've seen men keep their wives in domestic violence relationships by threatening them with this law if they attempt to leave. Partners have used these laws to get revenge on partners who have broken up or left them. Women and men are labeled and defined as sex offenders and must register on the sex offender list and are barred from seeing their children, nieces or nephews.

These laws were created in the early '80s when there wasn't a lot of treatment for HIV and we didn't know a whole lot about the transmission of the virus. Today we have new treatments that provide people living with HIV the ability to not transmit the disease to other people by taking medications and maintaining an "undetectable" viral load.

Yes I would seek to modernize laws that pertain to outdated medical reality as well as outdated norms.

As you point out, these types of laws are problematic in prosecuting non-violent crimes. And some people using them to terrorize another human being should definitely be stopped in any way possible. In fact, a modernization and rewriting of this type of law should go hand-in-hand with the updating of domestic abuse laws and punishments. The epidemic of domestic abuse requires more action to stem the tide.

I hope that the times when HIV was used for homophobic and racist agendas has passed. Now we can see it as a disease like the flu that has risks for potentially anyone. And, luckily, treatments.

Thank you, Frank, for your thoughtful question.

- Beth Bowen

The above is a mirror of a Q&A (link) from the MI HD-71 Voter Forum.
ETA: corrected hyperlinks
Last edited by Beth Bowen for MI HD-71 on Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:08 pm, edited 3 times in total.
#913
Yes, HIV criminalization law NEEDS to keep up with HIV research. Currently all there is needed for a criminal charge is someone to be HIV positive and never disclosed that.

There needs to be an update on that law where it needs to be proven in due process that there was criminal intent, I know that there have been situations where spouses in revenge of a break up have sent their partner to jail or have forcibly kept them in an abusive relationship with this loop hole in fear of them going to jail possibly for decades.

Thank you for that question.

-Dominic Natoli

The above is a mirror of a Q&A (link) from the MI HD-71 Voter Forum.
ETA: corrected hyperlinks