Georgia General Assembly Considers ‘HIV Assault’ Bill
The Georgia General Assembly is currently considering legislation in both the House (HB 711) and the Senate (SB 20) that would make it a felony for an HIV-positive person to attempt to infect an on-duty police officer or corrections worker by using bodily fluids, saliva or feces, the Morris News Service/Augusta Chronicle reports (Basinger, Morris News Service/Augusta Chronicle, 3/26). Any person who "commits an assault with the intent to transmit HIV or hepatitis, using his or her body fluids (blood, semen or vaginal secretions), saliva, urine or feces" on a peace officer or corrections officer could face a prison sentence of between five and 20 years (Bill text, 3/27). The legislation, which "easily won approval" in the Senate earlier this month by a 49-3 vote, has created controversy among AIDS advocates and some legislators. After the vote, Sen. Nadine Thomas (D) voiced opposition to the bill, saying that it was "medically incorrect" to include saliva as a means of hepatitis and HIV transmission, according to the Morris News/Chronicle. "It's not practical," Kendal Richardson, an HIV-positive man who plans to lobby the Legislature, said, adding, "It would be a devastating blow to the entire Georgia community if this bill goes through." Richardson was scheduled to join other AIDS advocates yesterday to lobby against the measure for AIDS Awareness Day. The advocates planned to speak to members of the House, where the legislation is still pending (Morris News Service/Augusta Chronicle, 3/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.