HIV: When Your Partner Fails to Inform You
Receiving an HIV diagnosis is devastating for anyone, regardless of the circumstances involved. When an innocent victim contracts the disease from an intimate partner, it can be even more difficult to endure. What legal recourse does a person have in this situation?
The AIDS Crisis
Since the rise of the HIV virus in the 1980s, condom use in the United States has drastically increased. The horrible disease impacted folks of every age, gender, and sexual orientation. New medications have helped many who are living with the disease, but according the government, one out seven who are infected today do not know it. That means one out of every seven people living with HIV is possibly infecting others if he or she is sexually active. Sadly, HIV is also sometimes spread by individuals who lie to their partners or fail to disclose their diagnosis.
Knowingly Spreading HIV
According to Georgia law, it is a felony to fail to disclose to your sexual partner that you are infected with HIV. This disclosure law also includes the sharing of needles. If found guilty, the offending party can serve up to 10 years in prison. According to the Official Code of Georgia, this applies to individuals who “knowingly” hide their HIV status.
In 2009 a man who was infected with HIV was sentenced to two years in prison and eight years of probation for not disclosing his status to the woman with whom he was intimate. At the time, the man was staying at a home for people infected with HIV, but even this fact did not alleviate his responsibility to literally tell his partner that he was HIV positive. Wearing a condom, or even having one’s HIV status on the front page of a newspaper is still not enough. The disclosure of HIV must be specifically communicated to one’s partner.
There are inherent problem with proving such cases. The courts are usually faced with one person’s word against another. Proving disclosure can be difficult. Disclosure laws similar to what we have in Georgia have also faced legal challenges.
In Ohio, a man was convicted under their non-disclosure laws for willfully infecting his partner with HIV and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. His attorney argued that Ohio’s HIV disclosure laws violated the man’s first amendment right to free speech and expression. This argument was unanimously rejected by Ohio’s supreme court, and the law remains active.
HIV In Georgia
According to the most recent studies, there are nearly 50,000 people in Georgia living with HIV. If you or someone you love has been knowingly exposed to the HIV virus, we can help. Please either call our firm or speak to one of our representatives on our web site’s live chat option, and we will get started fighting for you.