Effective January 1, 2018, Governor Brown signed into law a new law which
lowers the penalty for knowingly exposing partners to HIV making it a
misdemeanor instead of a felony. It will no longer be a felony in California
to knowingly expose a sexual partner to HIV without disclosing the infection.
Prior the law punished people who knowingly exposed or infected others
with HIV by up to 8 years in state prison. The new law will lower jail
time to a maximum of six months in the county jail.
The new law also reduces the penalty for knowingly donating HIV-infected
blood from a felony to a misdemeanor. Sponsors of the bill stated the
old law was outdated and stigmatized people living with HIV given recent
advancements in medicine that indicate a person with HIV who undergoes
regular treatment has a negligible chance of spreading the infection to
others through sexual contact. The sponsors further stated that the most
effective way tor educe HIV infections is to destigmatize HIV; to make
people comfortable talking about the infection, get tested; get into treatment
and will in turn lower HIV transmission in the state.
The bill was supported by the Californians for HIV Criminalization Reform,
a coalition of organization including the ACLU whose mission is to replace
stigmatizing laws that criminalize HIV status.