Missouri lawmakers push for HIV decriminalization

4 months 3 days 6 hours ago Friday, May 17 2019 May 17, 2019 Friday, May 17, 2019 3:00:00 PM CDT May 17, 2019 in News
By: Leo Rocha, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

JEFFERSON CITY - Some Missouri lawmakers say they haven't given up on a bipartisan bill designed to change Missouri’s criminal code on people with HIV. It didn't make it through this year’s legislative session.

Under the current law, it’s a crime to “act in a reckless manner by exposing another person to HIV without the knowledge and consent of that person to be exposed to HIV.”

Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, the bill's sponsor, said that leaves people with HIV legally vulnerable.

“If someone comes and presses charges and says, ‘hey, I didn’t know he had the HIV virus,’ then it’s up to the court to decide, well, did he tell her or vice versa?” she said. “So it becomes a he said, she said, which is incredibly difficult for our prosecutors.”

Penalties can range up to 30 years in prison. If the accuser does not contract HIV, the person charged faces five-to-15 years in prison. For perspective, a person convicted of certain vehicular manslaughter charges faces just three-10 years.

Lawmakers revised the code in 1997 and 2002, but the foundation of the law dates back to 1988. Since then, treatments have advanced significantly and allowed people with HIV live longer and healthier lives.

According to the CDC, people living with HIV can now take medication to suppress the virus in their system so they have "effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to HIV-negative partners.”

Rehder said the current laws discourage people from getting tested for HIV.

“If you don’t know your status, then you can’t be prosecuted,” she said. “For a healthier Missouri, we definitely need to change our laws.”

There are nearly 13,000 people in Missouri living with HIV. Last year, the CDC put 12 Missouri counties on its most at-risk HIV/HCV outbreak watchlist, including mid-Missouri's Crawford County.

Rehder’s bill would have repealed the 1988 law and replaced every mention of HIV with “a serious infectious or communicable disease.”

“No other virus is specifically named in statutes,” she said. “It’s very discriminatory for those living with HIV. It’s not a crime to spread Hepatitis C, which is very contagious and hard medically on a person.”

Rehder said the bill still takes into account there are people who might infect someone deliberately.

“We absolutely want someone prosecuted if they’re maliciously transferring HIV,” she said. “Our bill still has penalties in it.”

Devin Hursey, of Empower Missouri, said the current law is outdated, vague and can be used against people.

“There’s no reason why someone living with HIV should be facing up to 30 years for something that is not going to kill someone,” he said.

Hursey, who is HIV positive, said the laws need to be updated, but he's not sure Rehder's measure is the best approach because it "doesn't serve everyone living with HIV."

"I would not want it to pass. Not at all," he said. "People living with HIV, we speak in one voice saying we all need to be considered when we're fixing this law."

HB 167 follows last year’s attempt to pass a similar measure, but the 2018 version never made it out of committee. Rehder's bill ran out of time by the end of this year’s legislative session, but made it to the floor for debate, so she said she plans to reintroduce it next year.

“I think it’s important that we have this discussion on the floor,” Rehder said. “I think next year we’ll be very successful in getting it out of the House and over to the Senate.”

More News

Grid
List
FULTON – Fulton community members and business owners are coming together to show their support for a family and their... More >>
53 minutes ago Thursday, September 19 2019 Sep 19, 2019 Thursday, September 19, 2019 2:56:00 PM CDT September 19, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A federal judge has denied a request by Missouri to allow a ban on abortions after... More >>
5 hours ago Thursday, September 19 2019 Sep 19, 2019 Thursday, September 19, 2019 10:21:00 AM CDT September 19, 2019 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — Jurors ruled against a teacher who alleged that she was fired from a Catholic school in... More >>
5 hours ago Thursday, September 19 2019 Sep 19, 2019 Thursday, September 19, 2019 10:15:51 AM CDT September 19, 2019 in News
IBERIA - Police are investigating a threat of mass violence made by a student in Iberia R-V School District. ... More >>
5 hours ago Thursday, September 19 2019 Sep 19, 2019 Thursday, September 19, 2019 9:53:00 AM CDT September 19, 2019 in News
CAMDEN COUNTY - An Illinois man drowned at the Lake of the Ozarks Wednesday afternoon after falling into the water.... More >>
6 hours ago Thursday, September 19 2019 Sep 19, 2019 Thursday, September 19, 2019 9:40:00 AM CDT September 19, 2019 in News
Global warming has often been used interchangeably with climate change. Well, they shouldn’t be, because they do not describe the... More >>
16 hours ago Wednesday, September 18 2019 Sep 18, 2019 Wednesday, September 18, 2019 10:50:00 PM CDT September 18, 2019 in Climate
COLUMBIA - Longtime MU professor and musicologist Dr. Michael Budds wiped tears from his eyes as MU alumna Symonne... More >>
19 hours ago Wednesday, September 18 2019 Sep 18, 2019 Wednesday, September 18, 2019 8:29:00 PM CDT September 18, 2019 in News
BELLE - After the bodies of 4-year-old Bentlee Turner and 37-year-old Jason Burton were found on Monday night, the community... More >>
20 hours ago Wednesday, September 18 2019 Sep 18, 2019 Wednesday, September 18, 2019 7:42:00 PM CDT September 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Flu shots are now available from the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services (PHHS). ... More >>
21 hours ago Wednesday, September 18 2019 Sep 18, 2019 Wednesday, September 18, 2019 6:26:00 PM CDT September 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Schools is implementing new rules at all middle school and high school home sporting events. ... More >>
21 hours ago Wednesday, September 18 2019 Sep 18, 2019 Wednesday, September 18, 2019 6:16:00 PM CDT September 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia police confirm one person is dead after officers responded to an armed burglary call Wednesday afternoon. ... More >>
22 hours ago Wednesday, September 18 2019 Sep 18, 2019 Wednesday, September 18, 2019 5:35:00 PM CDT September 18, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – Improvements to the Dix Road bridge over U.S. Route 50 have now been slated to begin Wednesday,... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, September 18 2019 Sep 18, 2019 Wednesday, September 18, 2019 3:49:00 PM CDT September 18, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri State Highway Patrol released the names of the child and adult found dead in Gasconade... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, September 18 2019 Sep 18, 2019 Wednesday, September 18, 2019 2:39:05 PM CDT September 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Police are looking for information related to a robbery early Wednesday. It happened at the Midwest Petroleum... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, September 18 2019 Sep 18, 2019 Wednesday, September 18, 2019 2:33:00 PM CDT September 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia officials are fighting back against the trend of vaping among teenagers. Columbia/Boone County Public Health and... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, September 18 2019 Sep 18, 2019 Wednesday, September 18, 2019 1:19:00 PM CDT September 18, 2019 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department is asking for the public's help in identifying a pair of suspects in a... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, September 18 2019 Sep 18, 2019 Wednesday, September 18, 2019 12:02:00 PM CDT September 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - A Columbia man was arrested early Tuesday morning in connection with rape charges. Jason Boley, 40,... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, September 18 2019 Sep 18, 2019 Wednesday, September 18, 2019 9:59:00 AM CDT September 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Some new artwork is continuing to pop up and gain interest on the MU campus. So far,... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, September 18 2019 Sep 18, 2019 Wednesday, September 18, 2019 6:30:00 AM CDT September 18, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 91°
4pm 90°
5pm 89°
6pm 84°
7pm 82°