Iowa Senate eases some penalties for transmitting infectious diseases

New measure would encourage HIV treatment, testing

Rod Boshart
Published: February 27 2014 | 12:14 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 4:14 am in

The Iowa Senate voted 48-0 Thursday to modify a state law addressing the transmission of contagious and infectious diseases in a way that backers said would still punish reckless behavior but also encourage treatment and testing for HIV while removing a detrimental social stigma.

Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, floor manager of Senate File 2297, said the legislation is intended to revise current law that he characterized as “draconian, outdated and discriminatory” in addressing the transmission of AIDS/HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis or meningitis.

The current 1998 law says that if someone knowingly exposes another person to HIV without that person’s consent or knowledge with or without the intent to transmit the decision, the person with HIV can be convicted of a Class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prions. A person can be convicted even if they took precautions to prevent transmission of a disease or virus and even if the partner did not contract the virus.

“Modern medicine has changed, our understanding of HIV has improved and our law needs to be updated to reflect those changes,” Hogg said.

Under the new Contagious and Infectious Disease Transmission Act -- which would become effective upon Gov. Terry Branstad’s signature -- the Class B crime for knowingly transmitting one of the covered diseases would remain in place, but there also would be lesser offenses for situations where there was no intent or knowledge present.

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