SOCIETY :: Criminalizing HIV

HIV AND THE LAW :: I was arrested this week and charged with sexual assault, all because of a stupid night.  I decided to go to a club and see if I could pick someone up; I hadn’t had sex all summer and I just needed to shag.  I met Robert at the bar.  He was pretty drunk (so was I), but I could see that he had a great chest and God, I wanted him!  An hour later, he was lifting me out of my wheelchair, into bed, and taking my pants off.  He said that he didn’t want me to wear a condom and I agreed.  Why the fuck was I such an idiot?

I should have explained that he could catch the virus that causes my disability.  I just didn’t care though; I was drunk and horny and if he wanted it bare, fine.  Besides, why do I always have to be the responsible one?  The sex was great and what kills me, what irks the hell out of me, is he spent the night in my arms and made me breakfast in the morning.

A few days later and two cops are at my door.  They arrest me, put me in handcuffs, and lead me through my apartment building.  I was going to run for the condo board; guess that’s not going to happen now.  At the station, I’m told that Robert has laid changes because I “withheld information from him”.  They questioned me for hours about what happened and why I agreed to bareback.  I tried to argue that it was his idea and that he should have known the risks.  Apparently though, I have a responsibility to always disclose.  The humiliation got worse when I was made to be photographed naked.  I’ll never forget the smirk on the officers’ faces when they helped me get undressed.  I spent the night in jail and made bail the next morning, but not before a press release was sent out urging other people I’ve been with to come forward.  Now, I’m too ashamed to even go to the corner store.  I just sit at home and wonder what will happen next….

This is entirely fictional.  Indeed, it is absolutely impossible for anyone to catch cerebral palsy (my brain did not get enough oxygen at birth).  I hope you see the ludicrously of the situation and the double standard I would have faced.  If we replace CP with HIV/AIDS, the situation becomes all too real.  The criminalization of HIV positive people having sex is ableism at its worst.  It’s the state essentially denying people the right to make mistakes, the right to be horny, the right to have sex without prosecution, based on a medical condition.  It’s no different than saying I cannot vote because I can’t mark the ballot myself.    Criminalizing HIV  also an incredibly stupid public health policy.  Safe sex used to involve joint responsibility and communication.  

– Colin Philips


  1. God I thought that was real at first, thinking that Colin was positive and was refering to that as a diability, as I being positive, at least as a multi-drug resistant old timer, I see serostatus falling into the realm of disability for some.

    The sad thing is that this scenario is happening more and more. The only thing that is keeping me out of a jail cell is a very thin bit of latex.

  2. Colin,

    Kudos, I give you a big virtual Kiss.
    I am just sitting quietly and waiting fro the first HIV+ person to charge someone with something that could potentially prove to be “significant risk” with out disclosure. IE: syphilis or HEP A, B, C

    It’s going to happen.
    All it takes is a simple conversation that’s jam packed full of understanding to stop this madness.


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