January 29, 2009

January 29, 2009
Criminal HIV Transmission

Thanks for stopping by to see what is going on during another day in my life. I hope you are having a safe and great week so far.

Here in Jacksonville, we are having a very rainy day as another cold front started pushing through our area. This weekend, we will be having below freezing temperatures again.

Since my doctors recently cleared me to start driving again, today was the day to get a new used car. Last week, I heard an old friend was getting another car and was looking to see his 9 year old one. Having known this person for a long time, I knew he takes very good care of his possessions and was fairly sure the car would be in good shape and low milesconsidering it's age and the owner.

So Dick came over around 3pm today and we went and took care of the title, registration, tag, etc. etc. Luckily, the tag office was virtually empty so we were able to get in and out quickly. Then it was time to head to the insurance office to sign for the new policy on the car. So I am mobile again. Well at least until gas prices go up to where I would not be able to afford the gas.

But on to today's subject which is criminal HIV transmission. Since mid 1990s a number of people with HIV in the United States have been prosecuted and imprisoned for infecting a sexual partner with HIV.

In these cases, the people who were prosecuted had had unprotected sex with a partner, but did not tell them they had HIV and their sexual partner became infected.

Researchers wanted to see what gay men thought about such prosecutions.

They found that a clear majority of gay men supported the prosecution and imprisonment of people for passing on HIV to their partners if they had not disclosed they had HIV.

Overall, 57% of gay men supported criminalization of HIV transmission. The group most likely to support it (64%) were men who had never tested for HIV. The majority (57%) of men who believed themselves to be HIV negative also supported criminalization. Criminalization was also supported by 49% of men with HIV.

The researchers gave people the opportunity to explain their views on criminalization.

The harm caused by HIV was one of the main reasons why many people said they supported criminalization. It was also clear that people who supported criminalization thought that it was the sole responsibility of the person with HIV to prevent HIV transmission to their parotners.

By contrast, people who opposed criminalization thought that there was a shared responsibility to prevent HIV transmission. And people who were unsure about the issue often thought that the circumstances in which transmission occurred were very important.

After looking at the responses in detail, it was clear to the researchers that many of the men who supported criminalization had very stigmatizing views about HIV, and that there was little appreciation of the effectiveness of HIV treatment or the ability of people with HIV to live long and healthy lives.

The report’s authors were concerned that many gay men have unrealistic expectations that their sexual partners will tell them if they are HIV positive, and so assume that if a partner does not disclose, they do not have HIV. The authors emphasize that this is often impractical, not least because a third of gay men with HIV do not know that they are infected. Furthermore, the authors also believe the stigma that surrounds HIV means it is very difficult for people who know they have HIV to disclose.

Many of the early convictions for criminal HIV transmission relied on a testing technique called phylogenetic analysis. This can show if the genetic structure of HIV in two individuals is close enough to mean that transmission of the virus between them is linked.

But this type of testing cannot prove who gave HIV to whom and an expert HIV doctor was able to demonstrate this in court.

Researchers think that phylogenetic analysis can be useful in tracking HIV transmission clusters and, together with contact tracing, could mean that people who are unaware they have been infected with HIV are diagnosed. However, the researchers are concerned that such public health measures could be used by the police and courts in HIV transmission cases and they emphasize “phylogenetics analysis does not prove beyond reasonable doubt that transmission between individuals occurred”.

Now I can only speak for myself. When I am single and dating I prefer to date only men (over 35) who are already HIV positive. I still believe in practicing safer sex but at least if the worse possible happens (like condom problems, etc) the other person is already infected with the virus. True, they could catch a second strain which I still would not want to be the cause of happening. But they already know the drill with having the virus.

Let me know your thoughts.

Wishing you health, hope and happiness.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab