US: Two POZ editors editorialise eloquently on criminalisation

Two excellent, insightful articles by POZ founder, Sean Strub, and POZ editor, Regan Hoffman, published on the same date last week, highlight the issues of personal responsibility and HIV disclosure that are crucial to the wider criminalisation debate.

I’m including the first two paragraphs of each below. Click on the headline to read the full article.


Should people who spread HIV go to jail?

by Regan Hoffman

The Daily Beast (blog)

May 7th 2009

A Canadian court has handed down the world’s first murder conviction for knowingly exposing and infecting someone with the AIDS virus. But as an HIV-positive woman, I know that the man who infected me only deserves half the blame.

As a woman who contracted HIV from a man who claimed to have been unaware he was HIV positive, I have never entirely blamed him. Prior to being with him, I asked him questions aimed at identifying his risk factors for having HIV. Based on my trust of him, and his answers, I took a calculated risk and had unprotected sex with him. I rolled the dice—and lost.


Media hysteria and HIV criminalization

by Sean Strub

POZ Web Exclusives

May 7th 2009

Germany’s media have recently been in a frenzy over the arrest of pop star Nadja Benaissa. Her offense? Failing to disclose her HIV-positive status to three partners with whom several years ago she had unprotected sex (presumably intercourse without a condom). One of her accusers claims he acquired HIV from her.

In the United States, we have had a similar phenomenon when media-created hysteria—in conjunction with ignorant or ambitious prosecutors and politicians—frightens the public and brands people with HIV solely as vectors of disease or as “AIDS monsters.” This has prompted more than half the states to pass criminalization statutes, resulting in wildly unjust prosecutions and sentencing.