Why not simply disclose your HIV status? Is it that difficult?
Thank you for your contribution to HIV disclosure to sex partners.
After reading a recent article about a person who was prosecuted for nondisclosure of their HIV status to a sex partner, I began to understand the complexities involved in the process and I have a new found perspective. I am no longer quietly whispering to myself “Why don’t you simply disclosure your status? Is it that difficult?”
If disclosure of HIV to potential sex partners is that simple there would not be legislation in place to address disclosure, which ironically inhibits disclosure. There would not be increased, routine prosecution for non disclosure of HIV status to sex partners. There would not be incidents of people becoming infected by partners who did not know their HIV-positive status.
If this state of criminalization as an outcry for change, is not addressed then I have no idea how the pandemic will ever end. Who knows, those who protest most just may be the next ones to be criminalized. People are risking prison sentences to avoid disclosure. Who would do that if they did not feel a profound threat on some level? People avoid getting tested or choose to ignore the topic of HIV transmission entirely as a way of coping with the threat of being potential criminals themselves.
Based on the comments section of the article I read, there is an obvious community divide in thought processes and no clear understanding of the complexities of disclosure. Here are some samples of the comments that made me realize the conundrum people living with HIV are in on a daily basis.
“He needs to take responsibility for himself and his community.”
“This should be punishable but nothing along the lines that he has received.”
“His HIV wasn’t criminal until he knowingly put his victim at risk, without admission.”
“It sucks that being forthcoming can lead an HIV+ person to be ostracized, but what he did was potentially life-ending.”
“The perpetrator lied about his HIV status to the victim in order to get his rocks off.”
“The victim said the condom fell off. The victim not being infected is beside the point.”
“A person deliberately putting another person’s life in grave danger just to get off is a sick crime.”
“Yes, there are cases where ALL laws can be abused or applied unevenly. The fact remains that YOU don’t have any RIGHT to deliberately put another person’s life in jeopardy. Facts, something with which this joke of a writer should familiarize himself with.”
“Yes they should have disclosed their status but it’s not like they are some deviant who intentionally goes around trying to spread HIV. They were not out and about trolling for sex.”
“The person pursing criminal charges started the conversation online and initiated the meeting.”
“The accused was managing his HIV and they wore a condom.”
“Did the accused obtain full consent from their partner before having sex?”
“Discovering that their sex partner had HIV seems to have changed their mind about the consensual basis of their encounter.”
“Do we have a term for non-consensual sex?”
“There was no ill-intent, no malice, no HIV transmitted, a condom was used.”
If I did not already know my status and after reading about the possible outcomes if I did test positive for HIV, I cannot say with certainty whether I would want to know my status or disclose my HIV status in this present hostile environment. Criminalization, discrimination and the community dichotomy about one’s obligations and duties is a reflection and indication that there is something fundamentally flawed in our thinking, our values and our basic understanding of HIV. It is an indication that change is desperately needed and individual responsibility for one’s own sexual health must be emphasized. So, what are we waiting for?