February 19, 2014 | by Staff reports
HIV transmission bill gets traction in Iowa
HIV, AIDS, ACT UP, gay news, Washington Blade, HIV law

(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

DES MOINES, Iowa — A new bill, introduced this week by Iowa state Sen. Rob Hogg, along with bi-partisan support, seeks to reform Iowa’s 709c HIV law, which states a person has committed criminal transmission of HIV if that person knowingly engages in intimate contact without disclosing his or her positive status, whether infection occurs or not, KWWL, a regional NBC news affiliate, reports.

If passed, the new law would no longer be specific to HIV, and would rely on a tiered sentencing system, rather than the current “one size fits all” approach.

Tami Haught of Community HIV/Hepatitis Advocates of Iowa Network (CHAIN) explains the tiered system of sentencing: “If someone intends to transmit and transmission takes place it is still a class B felony, if there is intent but no transmission it is a [class] D felony and if there is no intent but transmission takes place it is a class D felony.”

Haught also told KWWL reporters that under the new bill, Iowans would no longer be sentenced as sex offenders and a retroactive clause in the bill would remove anyone sentenced under 709c from the sex offender registry. Prosecutors would also have to prove substantial risk, rather than the current law, which simply requires non-disclosure.

CHAIN along with One Iowa, the state’s leading LGBT organization, are both supportive of the changes proposed in the bill, and CHAIN has worked hard to reform the law, which they describe as discriminatory.

The bill is expected to be discussed in a judiciary subcommittee Tuesday.

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