Should Exposing a Sexual Partner to HIV be a Felony?

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Should Exposing a Sexual Partner to HIV be a Felony?

Louisiana law makes it a felony to intentionally expose other people to the AIDS virus without their consent. Exposing another person to HIV  infection with any other venereal disease is a misdemeanor.

It is also possible that deliberate or reckless transmission of these diseases would subject the actor to other criminal charges, such as assault or aggravated assault, depending on the circumstances.

What is Criminal Exposure to the AIDs Virus in Louisiana?

Under Louisiana law, it is a felony for a person infected with the AIDS virus to:

  • intentionally expose another person to the AIDS virus
  • by sexual contact or any other means or contact
  • without the knowing and lawful consent of the other person.

(Louisiana Rev. Stat. Ann. §14:43.5.)

HIV exposure covered

Louisiana courts have found that the law covers where the person  knew they were infected with HIV.

Exposure is enough; transmission is not required

Louisiana law covers acts that may expose another to infection; it is not limited to transmission. So, a person who knows they have HIV/AIDS and who has unprotected sex can be charged even if no one contracts the disease.

The problem, critics say, is that laws are not written to draw distinctions between serious offenses and lesser violations. In contrast, a killing can result in various degrees of murder or manslaughter, depending on the circumstances.

With the Missouri HIV law, in Louisiana, a person can be convicted of a felony for exposing a sexual partner to the disease, even if the virus is not transmitted. The law does not allow condom use as a defense, and a conviction triggers placement on the state sex offender registry.

Determining where to draw the line has states wrestling with tough questions.

If a person who is HIV-positive is taking medication that reduces his viral load to a level that doctors refer to as undetectable, and he uses a condom during sex, should that be a felony?


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