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4 March 2020, 11:50
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Washington lawmakers consider reducing HIV related sentences

Washington lawmakers consider reducing HIV related sentences - picture 1

Earlier this month The House of Representatives passed a bill to reduce the sentence for putting someone else at risk of HIV infection. That bill is now under consideration in the Senate.

If it is adopted, the bill, originally proposed by the state Department of Health, will make the offence of exposing someone to HIV a misdemeanour rather than a felony. 

The bill also makes provisions that would allow minors, of at least 14 years old, to access and consent to protective treatment (PrEP) without prior approval from a parent or guardian. 

Proponents of the bill say that the current legislation around HIV transmission are out of date and stigmatise those living with HIV. 

Rep. Laurie Jinkins, who represents Tacoma, said the existing 30-year-old law was based on a "really limited knowledge of HIV."

"It was an emerging infection, it had no effective treatment,"  

"When people got it, they died quickly, so there was no standard set at all for HIV care and counseling and things like that."

“Now we're in an era of actually ending the AIDS epidemic,” she said, “and many people are able to live long lives with HIV, as advancements in medicine prevent its spread. That's why the law should be modernized” she said.

The bill’s detractors claim that the proposed changes would give people a "free ticket to spread infection".

Author: Tom Hayes

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