Faithful adherence to his medications rendered Rhoades' HIV infection undetectable.Studies indicate those with undetectable virus are up to 96 percent less likely to transmit the virus to someone else.The survey also found that nearly two-thirds of respondents weren't aware of the laws in their states requiring (or not) HIV-positive people to disclose their status before having sex with someone.Even fewer were clear about what behaviors put them at risk for arrest in their state.
The result, he said, is the creation of "a viral underclass of persons with rights inferior to others, especially in regard to their sexual expression."Consider Nick Rhoades, an HIV-positive gay man in Iowa, going about his life.
These laws undermine public health efforts to identify those with HIV and get them into treatment, and thus to greatly lower their risk of infecting anyone else.
A 2012 SERO Project survey of 2,076 HIV-positive Americans found that, especially in the Midwest, nearly half of respondents felt it was reasonable to avoid HIV testing -- 40 percent said the same about avoiding medical care -- because of fear of prosecution.
Although 58.9 percent believed it was ethical or morally right to disclose their status, more than 8 in 10 respondents believed that both sexual partners share equally in the responsibility for safer sex, a view in line with the usually accepted understanding of individual responsibility and consensual sex between adults."Criminalizing the sexual conduct of those living with HIV is justified only when there is evidence that an individual intended to harm another person," said Strub.
Rhoades arranged a sexual encounter with a man he met online. When a friend later told the other man that Rhoades was HIV-positive, the man went to the county prosecutor and pressed charges.
Despite the fact that Rhoades used a condom, had an undetectable viral load, and did not transmit the virus, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for not disclosing his HIV status.