Justin's HIV Journal

Friday, January 20, 2012

Justin's HIV Journal: HIV Criminalization Comes To MARYLAND!!!......Wait...

Maryland’s oldest and longest serving Senator Norman Stone (Democrat from Baltimore County) proposed the bill (Senate Bill 60) to raise the transmission of HIV from a Misdemeanor to a Felony charge. The bill currently has no co-sponsor in the Senate.

Currently along with 34 other states and 2 territories, Maryland does have laws in place that criminalize the transmission of HIV through sharing needles & sex. Some states have even harsher guidelines such Iowa in which HIV positive Iowans have been imprisoned for having protected sex. In Iowa a HIV positive man was jailed for 25 years even though he was having protected sex with an undetectable viral load. In Texas a HIV positive man was jailed for 35 years for spitting on a police officer. Yes that is a nasty offense but we know that one must consume a gallon of saliva to transmit the virus. Knowing this; conviction measures in the future could even be taken for someone who is HIV positive to kiss someone else. In both of these cases there was NO TRANSMISSION OF HIV NOTED.

In this video Nick Rhoades, Robert Suttle, & Monique Howell Moree speak out on how they were put in prison for HIV criminalization.

Across the country there have been least 125 individuals persecuted since 2008. All of them were HIV positive gay, straight, Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, men and women.


There are two bills that would classify transferring the HIV virus to another individual as a felony in Maryland, one bill has already been introduced in the Maryland Assembly. These bills would increase the fine from the previous amount of $2,500.00 to a heftier fine of $10,000.00 and also jail time for the crime would be from 3 years to a longer time of 25 years imprisonment.


If this bill goes through than it might come back and bite the originator in the @$$. I cannot believe this. This bill will have to be written very carefully.

This is the time of HIV & EVERYONE has the responsibility to protect themselves. People who do not want to put them self at risk needs to use protective measures to not be infected with HIV. We should all know that if you have sex without a condom you not only put yourself at risk for HIV but for Hepatitis, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia and other STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections). This bill also removes accountability on both parties. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

In the case of rape then there should be a punishment, because rape is rape and no means no. Also if someone knows they are HIV positive and they are not disclosing to their wife, husband or partner than something needs to be done.

A friend of mine Mindy summed it up perfectly, “If this bill passed, the police could treat people with a chronic disease as dangerous threats to society. The bill does not address a continuing public health crisis. Instead, it perpetuates stigmatization of HIV+ people. In fact, it violates several international human rights conventions and declarations.”

We as Marylanders should be focused on prevention and education and not criminalization. This is not right. I wish this Senator would understand that even putting this bill in front of the Maryland General Assembly is in itself ludicrous. Look at this bill, it’s very vague and if put into law it will clearly label all of us as criminals before we have done anything and even if we were planning on causing bodily harm or not. This is just so wrong, I personally feel that if this bill is passed arrest will go up and what is important like education and prevention or even harm reduction will go out the window. Also the real enemy is HIV, how do you expect people to disclose their status if they will be tried and convicted for it? How can you expect anyone to be able to tell someone they’re dating that they have HIV if they don’t want the police called on them? How do you expect people to be comfortable about being HIV positive themselves if they are branded as criminals? How do you expect stigma and shame to be overcome when self esteem will be hindered if this bill is passed? This bill could jail a HIV positive person for having protected sex with anyone. I can’t believe that this bill is even being proposed this is not where our energy needs to be.

Proposed Bill: http://mlis.state.md.us/2012rs/bills/sb/sb0060f.pdf


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Justin's HIV Journal: National Youth Leadership Forum on Med. Keynote Sp...

On December 5th, 2010 I was given the honor of being the Keynote Speaker for the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine. Before I was going to speak I was so nervous that they wouldn't like me or I would do really bad, but all in all I think I did OK. Keep in mind there were about 200 hundred students and they are handpicked scholars from around the country. Some of the students were all the way from Hawaii and Puerto Rico. These young and impressionable men and women are the leaders that go to school and decide to earn a degree and practice in the medical profession. They were so receptive and amazing. I couldn't believe the questions and comments I received afterwards. I do have that video of the student asking questions but it needs to be edited to protect the students' identities because they are all underage. I've been asked to speak at colleges, forums and other places but this was really an inspiration because these young people concentrate their studies and time on areas of medicine. They will be the professional that will help the younger generation through illness and plagues like HIV.

I need to say Thank you so much to all the staff and students that make this event possible, it's really important that we inspire these young people to go onto study medicine and help not only the future of America but the world.

All in all I think I was a little nervous but I think I held my own and the experience made me cry a little. Those young people's faces are instilled forever in my mind. They make me think that what I do is right and make me want to keep on loving & living life . THANK YOU