Intentionally passing HIV -- what should the moral / legal reaction be?

Here’s the scenario: a person who has been confirmed as HIV positive (and who lives in a developed, Western country…not in the third world) continues to have unprotected sex despite being diagnosed. He does not let his partners know ahead of time that he is HIV positive. I’m curious what you believe society’s reaction to this should be.

To add one little twist to this: there are an increasing number of HIV strains that are drug resistant.

Even as researchers creep closer to eliminating the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in some patients via intense multi-drug therapies and early treatment, researchers at the University of Southern California warn that the responsible treatment may give rise to new killer strains that resist drugs.

The USC study hits close to home as the Los Angeles county targets men who have sex with men (MSM) – a high-risk group for HIV/AIDS – with a so-called “test and treat” strategy. The strategy pushes for universal testing – particularly between MSM and other high-risk groups. It calls for early retroviral drug treatment in individuals who test HIV positive.

The approach has thus far lowered the death rates and decreased the number of cases.

The USC researchers dug into data on MSM infections, which account for 82 percent of total known HIV infections nationwide. Using data from the Centers for Disease Control, internal data, and knowledge of drug resistance, the researchers modeled the occurrence of drug resistant viral strains if the “test and treat” strategy was aggressively followed over the next several years.

The study suggests that the rates of multiple-drug-resistant HIV (MDR) could jump from 4.79 percent to 9.06 percent.

The CCC states:

2266 The State’s effort to contain the spread of behaviors injurious to human rights and the fundamental rules of civil coexistence corresponds to the requirement of watching over the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime. the primary scope of the penalty is to redress the disorder caused by the offense. When his punishment is voluntarily accepted by the offender, it takes on the value of expiation. Moreover, punishment, in addition to preserving public order and the safety of persons, has a medicinal scope: as far as possible it should contribute to the correction of the offender.

So the questions are:

*]Should an HIV-positive person having sex with another person (without disclosing his/her HIV status) be considered a crime by society?
*]If so, what specific crime should the offender be charged with?
*]If so, what is the penalty that is commensurate with the gravity of the crime?
*]If you say prison, what should be done to protect that society (the society formed by the prison population) from having the crime committed again within that society?

Curious to hear a wide variety of responses…

Assault with a deadly weapon comes to mind.

Actually (and without looking it up), I believe that some intentional infectors have been charged with either attempted murder or aggravated assault (not sure which) and convicted.

Thanks. So how do you think they should be punished? (Please keep in mind that sexual relations are easily possible in prison)

In Canada failing to reveal that they are HIV positive results in a charge of “aggravated sexual assault” (we don’t have ‘rape’ on our books) on the premise that no consent is possible without that information.

If the partner contracts HIV and dies the charge is ‘first degree murder’ because it’s killing during the commission of a crime (aggravated sexual assault). This carries an automatic life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

When a person indulges in fornication and becomes infected with HIV, unless he/she explicitly asks the other person if they are HIV infected before the sexual act, no crime has been committed. However, if a person is asked and knowingly lies, then it is a crime.

The person knowingly infecting should be imprisoned and placed in a ward for the HIV/AIDS infected inmates.

Thanks. But how do you protect the other prisoners from the HIV-positive assailant?


based on case law ? or your personal opinion?

You tell them why the prisoner is there. If they decide to engage in sex knowing that, then it’s their problem.

In my previous post I failed to say that they are generally only charged if they didn’t use a condom.

My personal opinion as far as HIV/AIDS is concerned. That is the law as far as Herpes, which is a lifetime infection.

No one can just assume that another is STD clean.

in the US ?

Yes, they are held financially responsible for the one they infected if they knowingly lied.

It would be aggravated assault, attempted murder, and murder if the person dies in my State in the US. Since my State is not unusual I suspect that is the law in most States.

Whether it’s considered a crime, and if so what type of crime and what fitting punishment should be imposed is a matter for the civil authorities and not the Church.

Amen to that !

While it shouldn’t be directly for the Church, as laity, we need to inform ourselves of the teachings of the Church and how to apply those teachings in different circumstances. And it is the job of the Church to help us in the process of informing our consciences.

Hello Mark,

This is not a scenario. I think you were on a thread where I supplied a link? I would have to go back to be 100%. I am no lawyer but charge him/her with attempted murder. Any attorneys on here?


Hello Mark,

This is not a scenario. I think you were on a thread where I supplied a link? I would have to go back to be 100%. I am no lawyer but charge him/her with attempted murder. Any attorneys on here?


That has nothing to do with what the civil authorities pass laws for. The Church teaches on matters of faith and morals. It does not teach or even suggest what should be considered a crime by the civil authorities.

So the Church should not talk about what moral actions should be crimes? Right…

I suppose the Church should remain silent about the moral implications about murder and rape and theft as well.

The message I’m reading from you is that the Church should just pat everybody on the head, tell everybody that Jesus loves you no matter who you are or what you do, gather everybody in a circle to hold hands and sing Kumbaya. The Church should remain silent on everything else.

That’s the message I received from you. Is that the message you intended to send?

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