Senate Bill 239: A Social Justice Bill that Strips Away Protection
In yet another case of the Left flaunting their mental illness like a badge of honor in their attempt to subvert all things normal, healthy, and sane, a group of California lawmakers have proposed a law that would no longer make it a felony to expose a sexual partner to HIV without disclosing it to them.
Spearheaded by Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat with a silly last name, Senate Bill 239 would downgrade knowingly exposing one’s unwitting partner to HIV from a felony to a misdemeanor. This makes sense, because we all know that giving somebody AIDS on purpose is about as bad as speeding or littering, right? Get with the times, bigot!
The same downgrading from felony to misdemeanor would also apply to individuals who donate blood or semen that fail to notify staff that they have tested positive for HIV or AIDS, potentially contaminating a larger supply.
Senate Bill 239 would also repeal California laws that require people convicted of prostitution for the first time to be tested for AIDS and that increase penalties for prostitution if the sex worker tested positive for AIDS in connection with a previous conviction.
Currently, under California’s ‘Willful Exposure’ law, the act of ‘willfully exposing’ another person to HIV is a felony punishable by up to eight years in prison.
Between 1988 and June 2014, there were 357 felony convictions in California for an HIV-specific crime that would have been downgraded by Senate Bill 239, according to a study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, which conducts research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy.
Proponents of the newly proposed law argue that recent medical advances no longer make an HIV infection a death sentence, and that new antiviral drugs have been able to significantly increase the lifespan of HIV patients. This isn’t your father’s HIV anymore, apparently. In fact, the name ‘HIV’ just kind of seems a bit outdated, and could maybe be rebranded as something with less of a stigma. This is Nu-HIV.
In a statement, Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, the organization perhaps best known for spearheading the campaign to overturn California’s same-sex marriage ban, seems to agree: “These laws impose felony penalties and harsh prison sentences on people who have engaged in activities that do not risk transmission and do not endanger public health in any way.”
The proposed law has drawn support from gay rights groups including the Los Angeles LGBT center, Equality California, the Los Angeles HIV Law and Policy Project and the Transgender Law Center, as well as the Sex Workers Outreach Project.
The monthly cost of treating an individual with this new cocktail of HIV medications is between $2,000-$5,000, and with the lifespan of HIV patients increasing, the estimate of lifetime treatment for an HIV patient is more than half a million dollars, according to the California Department of Health.
If We Were to Nuke California, Would It Stop The Spread?
Meanwhile, the Department noted that in 2014 (the most recent year that these numbers are available), there were 126,241 people living in the state who had been diagnosed with HIV.
Since the identification of AIDS by the United States Centers for Disease Control in 1982, over 35 million people have died worldwide from AIDS related illnesses.
State Senator Jeff Stone, a republican from Murrieta, opposes Wiener’s bill. “HIV/AIDS remains a deadly disease,” Stone, who is a pharmacist, said in a statement obtained by the LA Times. “Existing law provides accountability of those engaging in unprotected, risky behavior that endangers the life of another.”
“HIV-related stigma is one of our main obstacles to reducing and ultimately eliminating infections,” Wiener said. “When you criminalize HIV or stigmatize people who have HIV it encourages people not to get tested, to stay in the shadows, not to be open about their status, not to seek treatment.”
Sorry, Senator Wiener, but nobody is ‘criminalizing’ HIV. Recent advances in treatment options for HIV/AIDS do not erase the fact that for many people, testing positive for this disease is a death sentence, and a very expensive one at that, which guarantees a lifetime of difficulty. Knowingly spreading a horrible, deadly disease-be it anthrax or HIV-should be criminalized, and the attempt to minimize this type of recklessness is simply the removal of accountability for people engaging in behavior that is dangerous to their communities. Let’s stop placing potentially hurt feelings against science and common sense.