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The Criminalization of Knowingly Transmitting AIDS Essay

Table of ContentsBrief history of AIDS and the criminalization of knowinglytransmitting it.

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. . . . . 3Interviews concerning the issue.

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. . . 4Reasons for the criminalization of knowingly transmittingAIDS.

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. . 5Reasons against the criminalization of knowinglytransmitting AIDS. .

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. . 7My position and conclusion. . . .

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. . . . . 8Brief History of AIDS and the Criminalizationof Knowingly Transmitting It Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is caused by the HumanImmunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

The virus was discoverd independently inFrance in 1983 and in the United States in 1984. In the United States, itwas initially identified in 1981. In 1986, a second virus, now calledHIV-2, was also discovered in Africa. HIV-2 also causes AIDS.

AIDS is transmitted in three ways: From sexual contact withoutprotection, from the mixing of ones blood with infected blood, and from aninfected pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection can occur from bloodtransfusions of infected blood, or sharing ‘dirty’ needles. (Needlesalready used, in this case, by a HIV positive person. ) The criminalization of intentionally spreading AIDS has been a bigissue recently, and still remains so.

As of September, 1991, legislationcriminalizing AIDS transmission has been passed in 24 states. Among thesestates are California, Idaho, Ohio, Missouri, Michigan, and South Carolina. Under these current laws, it is a crime to knowingly transmit the virusthrough sex, sharing needles, donating infected blood, organs, or skintissue. The first person to go to court under these laws in Michigan wasJeffrey Hanlon.

Hanlon was a gay man who infected another man fromMichigan while he was in New York. The American Civil Liberties Union, whoagreed to take the case, agrued that the AIDS disclosure law isunconstitutional. Privacy of those with AIDS is what they were worriedabout. Opponents argued that “they’re those with AIDS killing people.

It’s like rape. ” The maximum sentence Hanlon could have recieved was fouryears in prison and a $2000 fine. In addition, under the current New York State law, which dates backwell before June, 1987, the knowing transmission of a venerial disease is afelony. However, at that time, and currently, AIDS was not classified as avenerial disease.

Interviews Concerning the Issue Most people believe that the willful transmission of AIDS to others itvirtually murder. I have interviewed **name** and **name**. Both of themfeel that intentionally passing AIDS on to another person is murder. Therecipient of the virus will, in almost every case, die rather quickly of anAIDS related disease.

**name** feels that “if someone knowingly transmits AIDS to anotherperson, it’s like committing murder. He or she should be punished to thefull extent of the law. ” In addition to personal interviews, I have found the opinions ofGovernor Cuomo and former President Ronald Reagan. On June 1, 1987, Cuomo revealed that state lawmakers would considermaking the transmission of AIDS a crime. He was quoted at the time assaying: “If you know you have AIDS and you pass it on to someone who is notaware, that should be regarded as a very serious offense. I’m not talkingabout sins and morality; I’m talking about a sin against the community, acrime.

We should look into that. ” However, nothing was proposed at thetime. Former President Ronald Reagan called for “routine” AIDS testing ofprisoners, marriage license applicants, immigrants, and possibly somehospital patients. His purpose was only to identify carriers of thedisease; no comment concerning the criminalization of the transmission ofAIDS was made.

Reasons for the Criminalization ofKnowingly Transmitting AIDS There are not many reasons for the criminalization of knowinglytransmitting AIDS. However, they are very convincing arguments. The first and one of the most convincing arguments is because it willhelp stop the propogation of the virus. Ideally, if people know that it isa crime to transmit the virus, then they will not.

The only way that AIDSwill remain an epidemic is if it is continually spread. This is becausethose with AIDS will in most cases die rather quickly of an AIDS relateddisease. If they do not spread it, then the number of people with thevirus will decline steadily without fail. Another reason is that someone who is intentionally transmitting thedisease is doing it for their own satisfaction and/or to hurt others. Suchis the case with a drug pusher. Many magazine articles have made referenceto the analogy “a drug pusher is the same as an AIDS pusher.

” Theirargument is that if drug pushers are treated as if they commit criminalacts, then so should the supposed ‘AIDS’ pushers. The Constitutional argument involoved is also a moral one. Bytransmitting the virus willingly one is usurping on others’ rights to lifeand happiness. It is also seen as wrong by the public. In effect, it ismurder in the second or third degree.

If it is done intentionally, it ismurder in the first degree. Obviously this should be illegal and those whobreak the proposed laws should be prosecuted as if they committed a crime. Another reason to criminalize the transmission of AIDS is because themoney from fines incurred may be put towards research and development ofcures, as well as education and prevention programs. This will help stopthe problem and also speed up the process of finding a cure or immunizationfor AIDS. Reasons Against the Criminalization ofKnowingly Transmitting AIDS There are many more reasons against the criminalization of willinglytransmitting AIDS to others.

However, these are based not on morals but onfacts and practicality. Criminalizing AIDS would divert millions of dollars to legal fees thatcould be better spent on AIDS programs such as prevention, education, andresearch and development in terms of finding a cure. “Criminalization is ashort cut taken when not enough energy is given to prevention. ” Instead ofhelping erradicate the epidemic, criminalization would instill more fearamong the people living with HIV. “It would create a witch huntatmosphere,” stated William Ramirz, an attorney for a HIV positive client. Criminalizing AIDS transmission would open doors for people to knowinglyaccuse others they know that have it just to get rid of them.

The law would also be practically impossible to enforce. In somecases, intent would have to be proven. However, it is usually impossibleto prove intent since it is not possible to go “inside” the minds of othersto know what they were thinking in their moment of passion, whether it beintercourse or drug use. Even the United States Health Department opposes criminalization. Theyfear that it would scare people from reporting that they have AIDS.

Thisis because those that do report it may be accused of committing a crimesometime in the future. My Position and Conclusion I have mixed feelings on whether or not the transmission of AIDS shouldbe a criminal act. I feel that it is morally wrong, and in effect, thosewho do it are committing murder. There is definitely a valid argumentthere. However, due to the validity of the arguments against thecriminalization of passing AIDS on to others, I am partial to both sides.

I agree that it would divert millions of dollars that could be put tobetter use in research and other programs. I also agree that it would belegally and scientifically impossible to prove intent. I feel that because of these conflicting ideas that I believe, the bestway to resolve the issue would be to make transmitting the virus a criminalact, but not subject to jail time. Instead of wasting the taxpayers moneyon giving free medical care and room and board to inmates, it should be puttowards finding a cure for AIDS. Instead of a jail term, those whotransmit the disease should be fined very heavily so as to discourage themfrom repeating the offense. The money accrued from the fine should then beused for research and other related programs, including helping those thatare infected.

All in all, AIDS is an epidemic that is a part of the nineties. It isscary, but it must be dealt with. If the proper precautions are taken,then eventually it will be taken care of in the right way. However, therewill unfortunately always be those that have malice towards society andinsist upon spreading their pain and suffering.

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The Criminalization of Knowingly Transmitting AIDS Essay
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Artscolumbia
Table of ContentsBrief history of AIDS and the criminalization of knowinglytransmitting it.. . . . .. . . . . .. . . . . .. . . . .. . . . . .. . . . .. . . . . 3Interviews concerning the issue.. . . . .. . . . .. . . . .. . . . .. . . .. . . 4Reasons for the criminalization of knowingly transmittingAIDS.. . . . .. . . . . .. . . . . .. . . . .. . . .. . . . .
2021-07-13 02:32:28
The Criminalization of Knowingly Transmitting AIDS Essay
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