The Iowa legislature has voted to ease and even erase some of the current penalties for those found guilty of transmitting HIV, the virus which causes AIDS. The House gave final approval to the bill early this morning with a 98-0 vote. Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, a Democrat from Ames, celebrated the move.
“This is definitely a positive step towards justice for a number of people who have been suffering under the draconian law that we have and I truly appreciate the step that we are taking,” she said.
Under current law, anyone engaging in activity with any potential to transmit the virus can be found guilty of a Class B felony and sentenced to 25 years in prison, regardless of whether the person intended to infect another person and even if the disease was not transmitted. If this new bill becomes law, someone with AIDS who is under the care of a doctor and following prevention guidelines could be shielded from prosecution.
The bill passed the Iowa Senate in late February on a 48-0 vote. It now goes to Governor Branstad for his review. The proposed Contagious or Infectious Disease Transmission Act would allow people who intentionally try to transmit diseases like HIV, Hepatitis C and tuberculosis to others to be charged with a crime.