The bill, SB 239, which was approved by the Democrat-controlled state legislature in September and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on Friday, will lower the charges for these acts from a felony to a misdemeanor when the law goes into effect in 2018. These organizations are part of Californians for HIV Criminalization Reform (CHCR), a broad coalition of people living with HIV, HIV and health service providers, civil rights organizations and public health professionals dedicated to ending the criminalization of people living with HIV in California.
The penalty is also reduced for positive people who donate blood.
Critics say the new bill would actually endanger more people.
Although some praised the bill, many others shared their concern over it, saying that such legislation would inevitably increase the risk of HIV infections.
Governor Jerry Brown just signed the bill into law.
Advances in medicine, which have shown that it is almost impossible for people living with HIV who undergo regular treatment to spread the infection to others, have caused bill authors Sen.
Both the American Medical Association and the Infectious Diseases Society of America have publicly condemned laws criminalizing HIV. It has now been lowered to a maximum jail time of six months.
Wiener and Todd argued California laws on the matter were outdated, and that those living with HIV should no longer be stigmatized for their infection.
"These laws were passed at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic when there was enormous fear and ignorance and misinformation around HIV", Wiener earlie said.
'When people are no longer penalized for knowing their status, it encourages them to come forward, get tested and get treatment.
Wiener noted the previous law didn't require a risk of infection, meaning those on HIV medication could still be charged with a felony and convicted regardless of their treatment status.
It's also important that people who know they are HIV infected not knowingly infect others through sexual contact. Weiner said it was, "extreme and discriminatory". "It's absolutely insane to me that we should go light on this".
HIV has been the only communicable disease for which exposure is a felony under California law.
Wiener suggested that the existing law prevented people from seeking HIV tests, because only those who have been tested could be charged with a felony. Republican state Sen. Joel Anderson said he doesn't think people who would intentionally infect others should get lighter sentences.
"I'm of the mind that if you purposefully inflict another with a disease that alters their lifestyle the rest of their life, puts them on a regimen of medications to maintain any normalcy, it should be a felony", he said during the floor debate, as cited by Los Angeles Times.
Anderson said the answer could be to extend tougher penalties to those who expose others to other infectious diseases.