Iowa: HIV-specific criminal law reform moves out of committee to the Senate

DES MOINES — HIV-positive people who have sex without disclosing their status would face reduced penalties, similar to those for transmitting other communicable diseases, under a proposal advanced Tuesday in the Iowa Senate. The bill introduced by Sen. Matt McCoy would allow people who intentionally transmit the virus to their partner to be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison. That’s more in line with punishments for transmitting other diseases, such as hepatitis C.

McCoy has introduced versions of the bill in past years, but this is the first time it made it to the floor. Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, voted to move the measure out of committee, saying it is wrong to single out those with HIV. “I think it’s entirely appropriate to treat all diseases of a similar nature, chronic incurable diseases, in the same fashion, and the penalties of the current law are Draconian, to say the least,” he said. Despite supporting the bill, Quirmbach said he agreed with concerns raised by two Republicans, who said they opposed the measure because unlike the current law, it doesn’t require infected people to tell a partner of their illness.