Iowa Reconsiders HIV-Specific Laws; Growing National Trend

In 1990, Congress approved the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act. The CARE Act funds support and medical treatment for individuals with HIV. However, under the Act every state had to certify that it had criminal laws that would prosecute individuals with HIV who knowingly exposed others to the disease, even if those exposed did not contract HIV. Individuals who are successfully prosecuted under these laws are listed as sex offenders. In one case in Iowa, a woman was prosecuted successfully even though she claimed that she informed the man that she was HIV positive. He claimed she did not tell him; however, two weeks prior to filing his complaint against her, he was convicted of domestic abuse for hitting her. She is now listed as a sex offender.

Currently, the federal government and advocates consider these HIV-specific laws to be draconian in light of modern scientific knowledge regarding HIV, which is “no longer the death sentence it once was.” Many of these HIV-specific laws do not require exposure in the form of sexual contact, and some even include exposure in the form of something as innocuous as spitting. HIV cannot be transmitted through saliva. Some states, including Iowa, are reconsidering and changing their HIV-specific laws in response to this change in public opinion.

Read more here.

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HIV/AIDS Policy in South Africa Increases Risks for Lesbians and Bisexual Woman

Though the risk of sexual transmission of HIV between female partners is assumed to be low, scientific evidence shows that lesbians and bisexuals have an increased risk of transmission of certain reproductive tract infections. Therefore, some lesbian activists in South Africa believe that South Africa has wrongly de-prioritized the risk of HIV infection for lesbian and bisexual women.  Also, these activists believe that South Africa’s stance on this issue reinforces the myth that lesbian and bisexual women do not require the same protective measures during intercourse.

Moreover, about 10 percent of lesbian and bisexual women in South Africa are HIV positive – often, it would seem, a result of forced sex.  To read more, click here and here.

Bone Marrow Transplants Potential “Cure” for HIV?

Two patients, who had been living with HIV for approximately 30 years, have had no detectable HIV in their blood for the last several years— after receiving bone marrow transplants for lymphoma. However, researchers say that it is far too early to claim that the transplants “cure” HIV, and that even if it were possible to use “the C-word,” it is not an attractive option for curing HIV patients in general.

Bone marrow transplants are expensive, and patients that receive them have a 15 to 20 percent mortality rate within the first few years of their transplants. The two HIV-positive patients received bone marrow transplants as a treatment for cancer. Yet, their results suggest that bone marrow holds promise as a treatment for HIV.  Only time will tell if bone marrow offers a cure for people with HIV. Read more here.