Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August's Safety Net Message

Every 9 1/2 minutes, someone in the US is infected with HIV. Know your status, get tested this month!

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Where did the estimate that every 9½ minutes someone in the United States gets HIV come from?

--In 2008, CDC developed new estimates for the annual number of HIV infections—which suggest that about 56,300 new HIV infections occur each year. This estimate is a national average. CDC arrived at the 9½ minutes figure by dividing the number of minutes in one year by the 56,300 new HIV infections that were estimated for 2006. This result indicates that, on average, one new HIV infection occurs every 9.34 minutes in a year. For more information on the 56,300 estimate visit the HIV Incidence section of the CDC HIV Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/incidence.htm

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

HIV Infections and the Law

Shared from our friend Josh:

Regarding the discussion on non-disclosure of HIV+ status. This is a case from Australia.

Most prosecutions for infections have been in the US and Canada, a trend that drew condemnations in Vienna 2010, but this is an increasing trend. Prosecutions have involved both hetero and MSM.

All of these cases so far involve people intentionally lying about their + status, or tampering with condoms to reduce their effectiveness and increase risk of transmission.

The concerns that have been raised include scaring people from getting tested (ie. if you know you're + and infect someone, you could go to prison). Another issue though is that a court could rule that all unsafe sex carries strict liability. In other words, not knowing your status is not enough of a defense.

In other words, the + partner is responsible for ANY infection resulting from unsafe sex if he knew or "ought to have known" there was a risk of transmission. Just as individuals do not have the right to consent to be stabbed or seriously injured, a court could rule that the right to private, consensual sex (ie. Lawrence v. Texas 2003) does not extend to transmission of a dangerous pathogen.

Taken to its logical conclusion, I fear that these well-intentioned measures aimed at a few reckless, or even callous individuals, could be used by a right-winger on the bench to all but re-criminalize gay sex, or sex between / with HIV+ individuals.

In the end, it proves that each individual must rely on themselves for protection. While trust is great, latex is better.