February 20, 2012

Senate Bill Would Ease HIV Transmission Law

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John Chamberlain

John Chamberlain

State legislators are expected to consider a bill to ease parts of a controversial Iowa law allowing
imprisonment of HIV-infected people for up to 25 years if they don’t reveal their condition
before having “intimate contact” with another person.

The current law says that even if an HIV-positive person did not transmit the virus or engage in
unprotected sex, he or she could still be prosecuted. The person also is placed on the sex offender
registry.

As the bill to revise that law heads to committee later this week, Iowa Public Radio, in
collaboration with IowaWatch, will broadcast another in a series of reports today about the
criminalization of HIV transmission.

IPR Research Assistant Lindsey Moon will talk about the law and interview an HIV carrier who
explains how he could be prosecuted if he exposed someone to the virus but not if he exposes
them to the equally lethal hepatitis C disease he carries.

Moon also talks to Dr. Jeffrey Meier, an HIV/AIDs specialist from the University of Iowa
Hospitals and Clinics.

The broadcast airs at 5:35 a.m. and at 7:35 a.m. and at 4:45 p.m. on Iowa Public Radio’s News
stream
. It also is on the IPR website.

One of the major provisions of the bill, which has been introduced by Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des
Moines, would reduce the seriousness of the crime if the virus was not transmitted. It would be
an aggravated misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine. The bill also
would eliminate the requirement that the person go on to the sex offender registry.

Moon’s report will be the third segment in the IPR/IowaWatch series that began in December.
Two additional reports are scheduled later this month.

(IowaWatch contributor Lindsey Moon is a research assistant for Iowa Public Radio and a senior at the University of Iowa with a double major in journalism and mass communication and anthropology)

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