Monday, November 09, 2009

Sex And The Single POZ

POZ Magazine ran a pretty informative piece on the laws in the US regarding HIV and disclosure to potential sex partners. Basically disclosure laws vary state by state in this country, and only 14 states have either no laws criminalizing HIV exposure or limit their prosecution to people that expose others to HIV with intent. Presumably, that means people who know their HIV status, do not disclose this information to a sex partner and do not use condoms to protect that person from exposure. Or obviously, the few documented cases of people who knowingly and with malice infect others through sexual contact.

In the rest of the states disclosure laws and criminal behavior vary and are wide open to a host of interpretations, many times based on a lack of good medical information, fearful or over-zealous prosecutors or judges that seem to be woefully uninformed about the realities of HIV transmission. In many states, it is considered criminal behavior to have sex with someone without informing him or her of your HIV status, regardless of the sexual activity that ensues and with no regard to the use of condoms.

In Iowa, you can be prosecuted for kissing without disclosure. In Missouri, a person could receive a death sentence for transmitting the virus without disclosure.

Most HIV transmission "laws" were written in the early to late 1980's, and they were never amended or updated as reliable transmission data was finally understood as fact by the medical community.

Unfortunately, a very informative article was absolutely ruined at the end when the authors began discussing what HIV+ people could do to protect themselves from prosecution for having sexual relations? Here's what they suggested:

What can HIV-positive Americans do to protect themselves? In theory, one defense is “informed consent.” If you can get a person to indicate that you have made it perfectly clear that you have HIV, and do so in front of a witness, such proof of disclosure may hold up in court. But unfortunately, many states do not define what constitutes “informed consent.”

You could ask the people to whom you disclose to sign a letter stating that they have been told—and acknowledge— that you’re HIV positive. It will need to be notarized (stamped by a notary public at the time of signing) to be effective. Another method is to tape record (or videotape, say, with your cell phone or a digital camera) your disclosure. Remember: For an audio or video file to be admissible evidence in court, you must state, on the file, that you request permission for the conversation to be recorded and the other person must verbally agree and state his or her full name.

You could also invite a friend to be present when you disclose to a potential partner. That friend should be willing to stand witness to the disclosure should charges ever be brought against you. Or you could take a potential partner to your doctor to educate him or her about HIV and its potential risks—so you have a witness to his or her awareness of your status.

I kept looking for the smiley face icon to indicate they were joking but sadly, they were not. At what point in the bar or the nightclub or the bath house do you trot out the notary public to sign your AIDS papers? When you are making your cellphone videotape of you and your sex partner stating your names and acknowledging that HIV disclosure has been discussed and agreed to, is it better to do it in your underwear in your dimly lit bedroom? Is authenticity going to come up later? Even if you have a relatively "conservative" sex life, who has an HIV doctor that will be willing to take 3 or 4 appointments a year solely to explain HIV and potential risks to a "prospective sex partner"? And who in the holy hell is that fucking proactive?

It made a good article worth reading in to a complete joke, and did nothing but make HIV+ people hoping for some good information on how to have and maintain some semblance of an adult sex life left to fend for themselves.

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