Virginia Man Charged With Intentionally Infecting Wife with HIV
A 32-year-old Virginia man has been charged with intentionally infecting his wife with HIV, making him one of the first people to be prosecuted under a state law that makes it a crime to intentionally spread several sexually transmitted diseases, the Washington Post reports. The man is charged with "infected sexual battery," a sex crime statute that makes it illegal for any person who knows that he or she is infected with HIV/AIDS, syphilis or hepatitis B to intentionally infect a partner through sexual contact. He is also being charged with "malicious wounding" for choking the woman to the point of unconsciousness and burning her with a cigarette. Virginia is one of several states that has adopted or strengthened laws on "criminal exposure or transmission" of HIV in the past two years ago. According to the Post, the states' actions were sparked by the 1997 New York case of Nushawn Williams, who infected 13 women and teenagers with HIV through unprotected sex. The new laws are rarely used, however, because it is difficult to prove that someone intentionally attempted to infect a partner. Some AIDS activists claimed that the laws could discourage people from getting tested, while legal experts said the laws were unnecessary because such acts could be prosecuted under existing laws. In the Virginia case, the man had been HIV-positive for 14 years, but neglected to inform his wife of four years of his HIV status until December 2000 when he told her "he'd been mean to her because he wanted her to go away," Molly Sullivan, an assistant commonwealth's attorney, said. The woman has since tested positive for HIV (Davis, Washington Post, 6/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.