General Question

sarapnsc's avatar

If a person knows they have AIDS/HIV and they knowingly gave it to others, what do you think the punishement should be. Should they be prosecuted or not?

Asked by sarapnsc (1431 points ) September 4th, 2008

They knew and had unprotected sex with others and infected them. Is it a crime, if so what kind of crime? What should the punishement be.

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47 Answers

El_Cadejo's avatar

I’ve read about this happening quite a few times.Not sure what the punishment was though. Possibly attempted murder or something along those lines.

Mulot's avatar

In South Park it ends very well…

Seriously, if the carrier of the virus give it knowingly I think it must be punished, like said before maybe murder attempt, or poisoning attempt at least.

poofandmook's avatar

yes, I think they should be convicted… conspiracy to commit manslaughter? Is that a charge? Or they should invent one… Willing transfer of a terminal illness?

Lightlyseared's avatar

Assault with a deadly virus?

poofandmook's avatar

That’s a good one too, Lightly.

Divalicious's avatar

Yes, they should be charged. We have a prostitute in custody dying of AIDS right now, and she’s only charged with prostitution.

Maybe if a victim of this “victim-less crime” came forward, more charges would be filed. But I think there should be a category covering willful wanton neglect for public safety or some such thing. Why wait until someone else has the disease?

JackAdams's avatar

Trust me on this: If someone knowingly gave me that, they would not live long enough to be prosecuted.

There is a LIMIT to my forgiveness.

September 4, 2008, 1:00 PM EDT

aidje's avatar

Bioweapons! Terrorists! OMGLORZ!!!111 The government needs to monitor all sexual activity!!

But seriously, that sucks for the newly infected person. I hope that’s considered a crime.

marinelife's avatar

To knowingly infect others is wrong. It should be a crime. It should be prosecuted, but it could be very difficult to prove. How do you prove a negative? (He/She did not tell me they were infected.)

JackAdams's avatar

A jury might reasonably assume that no person would knowingly have sex with an infected person, unless they were incredibly drunk, which could be easily proven, if witnesses to the drunkeness were present, or some tests had been done, immediately after the assignation.

September 4, 2008, 1:35 PM EDT

marissa's avatar

If “They knew and had unprotected sex with others and infected them.” is it wrong? Yes, I think it is terrible. Do I think it should be a crime? I’m not sure. Yes, if it happened to me or someone I cared about, I would feel like it was a crime and that person should be punished, but I’m trying to be objective. I’m not sure that this is an area that courts could fairly and accurately precide over. It seems a bit ‘slippery slope’ to me. In my mind it is similar to the issue of someone murdering (or assaulting) a pregnant woman and the fetus dies, yes it is terrible, but should the person be charged with the murder of the fetus also. And yet with the death of the fetus the details of the case would more than likely be more clear cut, than an issue involving two adults having sex.

tinyfaery's avatar

Having sex with an HIV positive person does not automatically equal death. One might not even get infected, and if infected, may not die. If I’m correct, a willing sexual partner has a responsibility to protect themself. There is little chance of contracting HIV if one protects themself.

I agree with Marissa; it’s wrong, but I’m not sure it’s a crime.

cak's avatar

Not all AIDS/HIV patients are clearly labeled for their partner to see that they are in fact sick. If someone engages in sex and does not disclose the fact that they are, in fact, sick, then they are willfully endangering another person’s life. To me, that is attempted murder. They have a deadly disease, it is their responsibility to inform anyone they have sexual relations with, for the rest of their life.

tinyfaery is correct, not all HIV patients die of HIV/AIDS. However, they are not ina position where they will have to take medications for the rest of their life. They will have to deal with the stress and the emotional implications that having a dread disease carries.

All of this could be prevented with honest communication about whether or not you have any communicable diseases and yes, possibly a condom, too.

marissa's avatar

“They have a deadly disease, it is their responsibility to inform anyone they have sexual relations with, for the rest of their life.” Cak, I agree with you completely on that statement. However, I’m not sure you could have a law against it that could be realistically and uniformly enforced. How would the legal issue of he said/she said be fairly handled without there being a bias against the individual with HIV? For example, they claim in a court of law that they told the other individual and the other individual claims they didn’t, would the jury be automatically biased against the person with HIV and believe the person who had been infected? Especially, if you end up in a situation where multiple partners are involved. Let’s take this one step further, if a person (person A) knowingly has sex with a person with HIV (person B) and then has sex with another individual (person C) without disclosing that they had sex with B (whom has HIV), should A be held criminally responsible if C contracts HIV? Don’t get me wrong, I think that everyone should be acting resposibly, but I’m not talking about what I think people should do, I’m talking about what behavior we can and should hold legally accountable.

gooch's avatar

Kill them so they dont do it again. It is like having a loaded gun and shooting somone with your gun.

marissa's avatar

@gooch, should we kill individuals after their first DUI too, “so they dont do it again”? Driving while intoxicated is quite similar to “having a loaded gun and shooting somone with your gun.”

Once again, I’m not saying their behavior is right, I’m saying is it wise to make it criminal?

marissa's avatar

Which, DUI is criminal, so maybe we should make it criminal, I don’t know. I’m just saying that I think there is a knee jerk reaction to this issue and that concerns me, because some of the worse laws have been made as knee jerk reactions to terrible situations and the laws didn’t really make the situation better, it just made it more complicated.

scamp's avatar

They should be charged with attempted murder at the very least. If their victim dies, it should be first degree murder, and punishable to the full extent of the law. Gooch is right.

gooch's avatar

@ marissa Yes that’s how I answered the question which was posted the other day asking the same thing about DUI offenders.

marissa's avatar

@scamp, okay, how would you enforce it? Especially if they had been with more than one person who had HIV? How would you determine who should be charged? Also what about the situation I mentioned above, should someone be held criminally accountable in that situation and if so, who?
“Let’s take this one step further, if a person (person A) knowingly has sex with a person with HIV (person B) and then has sex with another individual (person C) without disclosing that they had sex with B (whom has HIV), should A be held criminally responsible if C contracts HIV?”
@gooch, at least you are consistent in your views, I can respect that :0)

scamp's avatar

@marissa The question was If a person knows they have AIDS/HIV and they knowingly gave it to others, what do you think the punishement should be. Should they be prosecuted or not?

Adding extra people to the equation does not change my answer. If a person or persons with aids has sex with another person without divulging the risks involved, they should be charged with attempted murder. That is my opinion. If you feel it is ok to do, that’s your perogative.

marissa's avatar

@Scamp, I certainly don’t feel it is okay to do, I wasn’t attacking your point of view, I’m sorry if it came across that way. I was just discussing the issue. I wasn’t asking those question in a hostile manner, I am truly interested in how such a law would be enforced.
@lightlyseared, thank you for sharing the link, I found the article very interesting.

Lightlyseared's avatar

As far as I know there have been several successful prosecutions in the UK.

scamp's avatar

@marissa no worries. No harm no foul. As far as enforcing the law, I guess it would be similar to investigating a rape case. There could be physical evidence in some cases, and when there is not, it would probably go to trial on a he said she said type basis.

cak's avatar

@Marissa. I agree that there are difficulties in this situation – especially when it comes to multiple people and when you start tracking back and realize it’s not a clear cut situation.
I guess because I’ve watched someone die from this disease and the discrimination that comes along with it – I’ve got a very strong view on things.

However, I know that they have tried some cases and some have been sentenced. I think it fell more along the lines of manslaughter or endangerment.

There are a lot of gaps in this and at times, it would be very difficult to prove. You do raise a good point.

marissa's avatar

Cak, I’m sorry for your loss and believe me, there is no question that I think the situation in the question is terrible. And my heart says they should be charged with murder, but I was just trying to look at it as objectively as possible. {{{hugs}}} to you

cak's avatar

thanks marissa, but you did raise some great points. Emotions and fairness…don’t always work well together!

sarapnsc's avatar

Thank you everyone for responding to my question. If I missed anyone with a lurve…let me know. Thanks!

missjena's avatar

Well im pretty sure in some states its considered murder actually in most states. It is murder if someone does this. sick world

MacBean's avatar

This popped up on my Google Reader this morning. It made me remember this question, so I thought I’d share.

brjac's avatar

yes i think they should! their are people out there that tell you they were wearing a condom but then say they took it off. i was a virgin and did’nt know the difference and also some crazy people who put holes in condoms too…so now i have to see about getting tested and the stress alone can give someone a mental break down. i just hope people like that can get some jail time because it can change a person life forever,and i did everything right about telling the person to use a condom. so can’t trust people anymore.There are alot of people who just think about themselves..but if there was jail time for someone who is doing this to people then maybe their would be
less people contracting the virus.

Zuma's avatar

Considering that it can take 6 months or more for someone to “seroconvert” or turn positive after being infected, how, exactly, do you prove who infected who, much less intentionally?

I know one gay couple who had been having sex for years until one of them tested positive for HIV. He was furious at the other partner for not telling him. Then the other partner went out and got tested and tested negative.

The picture is even further complicated when people who sleep around and have a lot of unprotected sex but don’t get tested. Sad to say, “don’t ask, don’t tell” seems to be the norm in some gay circles; so, its up to the individual who doesn’t want to get infected to practice safe sex. If somebody actively lies to you and you rely on their word and get infected, you may have an actionable case, but you are still responsible for your own serostatus.

http://www.avert.org/criminal-transmission.htm

Zen's avatar

Capital punishment.

Zuma's avatar

@Zen Barbarian.

Zen's avatar

@Zuma Pig.

If someone knowingly gave my kids HIV, I’d give him the needle myself. Maybe a needle with HIV. I think it is worse than attempted murder, and should be treated as such – in states with capital punishment.

@Zuma Care for a little intellectual debate, or are you happy just name calling ?

poofandmook's avatar

[claps for Zen]

Zen's avatar

Someone whom I respect here, @cak wrote: * If someone engages in sex and does not disclose the fact that they are, in fact, sick, then they are willfully endangering another person’s life. To me, that is attempted murder. They have a deadly disease, it is their responsibility to inform anyone they have sexual relations with, for the rest of their life.*

Welcome back @cak

Zuma's avatar

@Zen I have no doubt (since you tell us so) that you are so easily aroused to fits of blind, murderous rage that you would gladly kill another human being—and maybe even torture him a little by drawing his death out by infecting him, presumably, with a more virulent strain of HIV. But, this hardly qualifies you as a civilized person, even if you do share this barbarous trait with many of your fellow countrymen.

Consider first the futility of killing people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong. Doing so only serves to lower yourself to the same moral level as the offender. Moreover, it makes you (and the state) an accomplice to his crime, when it is a crime. This is why 114 countries (out of 140) have stopped practicing capital punishment, leaving us in the company of some of the most backward societies on earth.

Second, it is highly counter productive in this instance, insofar as killing people who “knowingly” infect others removes all incentive to get tested for HIV. So, in this respect, getting on your vengeful moral high horse, while no doubt pleasurably self-indulgent, will almost certainly guarantee that the very people most at risk of infecting others won’t get tested so they can’t be accused of “knowingly” transmitting HIV.

By the way, getting high risk persons to get tested is still a terrible problem in the major HIV risk groups, and the very expression of attitudes like yours only serves to remind those who are at high risk of the downside of getting tested. Congratulations, you have just set back AIDS-awareness and prevention efforts among everyone who hears your message, thereby increasing the likelihood of the very risk you hope to prevent.

Third, even if someone knows that they have HIV, it does not follow that they are principally at fault in infecting others. In certain cities, the seroprevalence rate among gay men is so high that it is reasonable to assume that the other person is infected also. If the other person consents to unprotected sex it is either because 1) the act being engaged in is very low risk (like oral sex), or 2) it is assumed that the other party is infected also. It is everyone’s responsibility to look out for their own serostatus. If your little darling comes down with HIV it is not because some awful bad man infected him; it is because your little darling likes to take it raw, up the ass, from people he does not know very well.

Fourth, HIV infection is not the death sentence it once was. Not only have the most virulent strains died out, but treatments have improved life expectancy. This alone should undercut any knee-jerk resort to the death penalty.

Fifth, capital punishment moves us back to the barbarous principle of punishment for punishment’s sake. If there is to be punishment, it should be constructive in some way. It should either correct the offender, deter certain behavior, or otherwise heal the society from this breach of common regard. It should not be so that the victim or the victim’s family can take sadistic pleasure in watching the offender suffer. That is truly barbaric.

Confuscious's avatar

I would think it would be appropriate to charge them with attempted murder on HIV and murder once/if the disease goes over to full blown Aids.

Response moderated
missnolan's avatar

A lot of people on here are saying it would be hard to prove by he said she said, but its not a matter of he said she said its a matter of they check the infected persons medical records if they indicate that the person did in fact know then they can get them with attempted murder for not telling the non infected person, but if the infected persons records indicate that they truely didnt know then there is really nothing that can be done about it. As far as im concerned if you did know and gave it to someone knowingly i think they should go to jail for attempted murder, and if the person dies go away for murder because its wrong first off and your giving them a life of pain, or a hortened life for that matter.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
pinkice's avatar

i think they should go to jail

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
pinkice's avatar

i had friend that took hiv test and guy her test was hiv pos and he stuck her with a drity needle

Kayak8's avatar

There are a few things about HIV/AIDS that would make this a more interesting (thought-provoking) thread I think.

1. Proving that someone KNOWS they have HIV can be a bit difficult. It may also deter people from getting tested (if KNOWING your status is the seminal point that makes the behavior a crime).

2. I think there is a great deal of confusion as to what constitutes “sex” (thank you Bill Clinton), so it would seem to be helpful to clarify (in the law) that we must be talking about behaviors KNOWN to transmit HIV and not fear monger with behaviors that do not transmit HIV.

3. Must HIV transmission take place for this “crime” to exist. If I brandish an unloaded gun (and even fire it in your direction) am I now guilty of murder (or some lesser crime like, brandishing a weapon)?

4. If transmission does take place, is the law equipped to do the necessary testing to PROVE that you got MY virus (or perhaps you picked it up somewhere else). Even with gun crimes, we make sure that the person brandishing a 22 caliber is not a suspect in the murder caused by a 38.

5. If transmission does take place and the newly infected individual has consistent access to life-saving medications, is it murder? What if the newly infected individual chooses not to take the meds (does that change the crime)?

6. Shouldn’t the laws be updated as our knowledge about HIV increases?

7. If I tell you I have HIV and ask you to sign a document indicating you have this knowledge (many positive guys who meet others online send an email with such a statement and require a response acknowledging that the information has been shared before meeting up), does that change the nature of the “crime” or is it now NOT a crime because I told you?

Just curious what folks think when armed with more information about the complexities of passing such a law (most such laws were written by folks that don’t understand HIV transmission and the effect can be chilling—it would not be too hard to write laws based on the facts of HIV rather than the fear).

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