OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington Legislature has approved a bill that reduces the crime of intentionally exposing a sexual partner to HIV from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Today in our state, intentionally spreading HIV to an unknowing sex partner is a felony and those convicted could face life in jail and huge fines. The new bill in Olympia aims to reduce that crime and its consequences.
Supporters of the change to the rarely used law say the current penalties don’t have an effect on reducing transmissions or improving public health, while opponents argued the move diminishes the significance of the impact on a person who is unknowingly infected.
The legislation, which was requested by the state Department of Health, also calls for more intervention from local and state health officers, allowing them to recommend options ranging from testing to counseling, and even mandate treatment for an individual determined to be placing others at risk.