Melissa and “I should tell you.”

I haven’t posted in a while and for that I apologize. I told myself that I am going to commit to this blog and I meant it. I still mean it. So that is my apology….mostly to myself but you’re reading this so it can count towards you.

Today, children, we will talk about one of the most uncomfortable conversations that a number of you will never have to experience. Hopefully. It is actually one of those conversations that if you find yourself in the situation, you are required by law to have. I am, of course, talking about disclosing your positive HIV status.

The law goes as following (thanks to michiganmessenger.com read the article)

333.5210 Sexual penetration as felony; definition.

Sec. 5210.

(1) A person who knows that he or she has or has been diagnosed as having acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome related complex, or who knows that he or she is HIV infected, and who engages in sexual penetration with another person without having first informed the other person that he or she has acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome related complex or is HIV infected, is guilty of a felony.

(2) As used in this section, “sexual penetration” means sexual intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, anal intercourse, or any other intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person’s body or of any object into the genital or anal openings of another person’s body, but emission of semen is not required.

As the article points out, this law is problematic but came about in 1987 when HIV first made headlines in the United States. So let’s go over what Melissa finds wrong with this law. For one, it can, like superpowers, be used for bad instead of good. Let’s face it, short of having your partner sign papers that say :”You are fully aware of my status which is positive because I told you explicitly and under no uncertain terms that I am HIV positive. After you learned of this, you agreed to still do things to me…sexually.” , there is no sure way of knowing whether or not the partner is lying because they are feeling vindictive. It’s horrible but it could happen. Also, there is no other disease with this law. Think about that for a minute. And finally, how effective is this law in regards to HIV prevention? Honestly, the high rate of HIV transmission among African-American youth raises doubts.  I still think a law like this might be necessary but there definitely needs to be a change in it.

The reasoning behind the law is perfectly understandable. Let’s be clear, while HIV is no longer a death sentence, it is a very serous, high preventable disease. People aren’t just walking in October for the hell of it. Chances are you know someone or know someone who knows someone who has been infected. So let’s look at it from another point of view. You just been diagnosed with a horrible disease, your life is pretty much changed and little screwed.  There have been advancements in HIV medication, such as taking one pill instead of an AZT cocktail RENT style, but there are still side effects. Also, you know once you tell people, you risk losing them…be it friend, family or lover. This can be hard or impossible for a person to accept. This law, in a way, does criminalize those with the disease. You rarely hear about someone being prosecuted for it but it still happens. There is a case mentioned in the link above about a man being charged under it for putting two women at risk.

There are ways to get around having this conversation face to face. The health department is required to let your sexual partners know about your status but they will not give your name. There are also organizations that will do this for you. The responsibility of contacting these resources and providing names is again up to you.

Now, finding out you’re HIV positive does suck, especially if it was because you trusted someone who betrayed you. It sucks even if you got it because you acted with reckless abandon concerning your health. There is no circumstance in which this will not suck. However, it is irresponsible to engage in sexual activity without telling your potential partner they might be at risk. Even if you are using a condom (which I mean… come on…use a condom) it is still irresponsible.  No amount empathy will make taking that decision away from a person right.

And so that about wraps it up. *pun*

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Melissa and “I should tell you.”

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