EDITORIAL: Some secrets should be shared


Those with AIDS that have sex, donate blood must disclose disease


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Since its earliest-known case in 1959, HIV/AIDS has killed about 39 million people. And although this disease is universally known, not many people know exactly what HIV actually is. HIV is a virus that can lead to the infection that is called AIDS. AIDS, which is an acronym for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is the actual condition that is developed after HIV causes damage to the immune system. But despite a large majority of people who are unaware of the true definition and difference between HIV and AIDS, it is no secret that this disease is dangerous. With AIDS being the eighth leading cause of death for people between the ages of 25 and 34, the gravity of its detrimental effects are not lost on anyone.

And yet, despite the obvious severity of HIV/AIDS, it seems as though the Senate is attempting to dampen the gravity of this disease.

State lawmakers have proposed a new law that would reduce the criminalization of those people who have sexual intercourse without protection and refuse to disclose that they are infected. Instead of this act being a felony, it would only be considered a misdemeanor. But this would not be the only downgrade. This would also translate to those people with HIV/AIDS that donate blood or semen without alerting the blood or semen bank of their condition.

The lawmakers behind this law feel that by decriminalizing these acts, the stigma behind HIV and those who have HIV will be reduced. Sen. Scott Wiener (D-Calif.), who is a prominent supporter for this law, said that, “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.” Wiener is far off in his assertion. There is a difference between stigmatizing people with HIV, and ensuring that they are taking safe and honest precautions when engaging in sexual activity or donating bodily fluids.

Making it a felony for those infected with a serious disease to have unprotected sex without telling their partner about their disease is not an attempt to stigmatize those who are infected. It is merely recognition of the severity of the disease and an attempt to make those who do carry the infection take responsibility for their own health. In fact, it is ridiculous how certain lawmakers pick and choose when they want to be “politically correct.” How is it that people were not so concerned about stigmatizing certain groups when gay men were not allowed to donate blood if they had sexual intercourse in the past year? This law was blatantly discriminatory as it assumed that all gay men have HIV/AIDS or that they were the only ones to target with the infection. Meanwhile, lawmakers trying to decriminalize those who do not disclose their disease is not “fighting stigmatization,” but rather putting lives at risk. If you continue to make this a felony, it will make those with HIV/AIDS more careful about alerting their sexual partners or blood or semen banks about their condition.

The lifetime cost of living with HIV/AIDS is about $379,000, and about 30 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS are not insured. If the mere fact that having unprotected sex with someone who has HIV/AIDS spreads a deadly disease is not enough to make lawmakers take the condition seriously, then perhaps the aspect of money will. And perhaps once lawmakers realize that although you should not be discriminated against for having AIDS, you should not be able to knowingly spread it, forcing someone into this lifetime of debt and pain unknowingly with little to no punishment.


The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 149th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.


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