Last spring, they married at a ceremony in the Bronx.
“It took me a long time to propose, because I thought I would die,” he recalled.
In a recent survey of HIV-positive people in New Jersey, 90 percent said that people with the virus bore most of the responsibility to protect their partners.
More than half approved of the kind of laws that resulted in Rhoades’ sentence.
They can just wait for their partner to reveal their status and not, instead, take steps to protect themselves.” Schoettes also says that the laws unfairly single out HIV, further stigmatizing and reinforcing misconceptions about living with the virus.
And medical records show he was taking antiviral drugs that suppressed his HIV, making transmission extremely unlikely.
People with HIV have even done time for spitting, scratching or biting.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spitting and scratching cannot transmit HIV, and transmission through biting “is very rare and involves very specific circumstances” — namely, “severe trauma with extensive tissue damage and the presence of blood.” Many law enforcement officials and legislators defend these laws, saying they deter people from spreading the virus and set a standard for disclosure and precautions in an ongoing epidemic.
The national tally is surely higher, because at least 35 states have laws that specifically criminalize exposing another person to HIV. In 60 cases for which extensive documentation could be obtained, Pro Publica found just four involving complainants who actually became infected with HIV.
Even in such cases, it can be hard to prove who transmitted the virus without genetic tests matching the accused’s HIV strain to their accuser’s.