Missouri lawmakers push for HIV decriminalization

1 year 2 months 2 weeks ago Friday, May 17 2019 May 17, 2019 Friday, May 17, 2019 3:00:00 PM CDT May 17, 2019 in News
By: Leo Rocha, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

JEFFERSON CITY - Some Missouri lawmakers say they haven't given up on a bipartisan bill designed to change Missouri’s criminal code on people with HIV. It didn't make it through this year’s legislative session.

Under the current law, it’s a crime to “act in a reckless manner by exposing another person to HIV without the knowledge and consent of that person to be exposed to HIV.”

Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, the bill's sponsor, said that leaves people with HIV legally vulnerable.

“If someone comes and presses charges and says, ‘hey, I didn’t know he had the HIV virus,’ then it’s up to the court to decide, well, did he tell her or vice versa?” she said. “So it becomes a he said, she said, which is incredibly difficult for our prosecutors.”

Penalties can range up to 30 years in prison. If the accuser does not contract HIV, the person charged faces five-to-15 years in prison. For perspective, a person convicted of certain vehicular manslaughter charges faces just three-10 years.

Lawmakers revised the code in 1997 and 2002, but the foundation of the law dates back to 1988. Since then, treatments have advanced significantly and allowed people with HIV live longer and healthier lives.

According to the CDC, people living with HIV can now take medication to suppress the virus in their system so they have "effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to HIV-negative partners.”

Rehder said the current laws discourage people from getting tested for HIV.

“If you don’t know your status, then you can’t be prosecuted,” she said. “For a healthier Missouri, we definitely need to change our laws.”

There are nearly 13,000 people in Missouri living with HIV. Last year, the CDC put 12 Missouri counties on its most at-risk HIV/HCV outbreak watchlist, including mid-Missouri's Crawford County.

Rehder’s bill would have repealed the 1988 law and replaced every mention of HIV with “a serious infectious or communicable disease.”

“No other virus is specifically named in statutes,” she said. “It’s very discriminatory for those living with HIV. It’s not a crime to spread Hepatitis C, which is very contagious and hard medically on a person.”

Rehder said the bill still takes into account there are people who might infect someone deliberately.

“We absolutely want someone prosecuted if they’re maliciously transferring HIV,” she said. “Our bill still has penalties in it.”

Devin Hursey, of Empower Missouri, said the current law is outdated, vague and can be used against people.

“There’s no reason why someone living with HIV should be facing up to 30 years for something that is not going to kill someone,” he said.

Hursey, who is HIV positive, said the laws need to be updated, but he's not sure Rehder's measure is the best approach because it "doesn't serve everyone living with HIV."

"I would not want it to pass. Not at all," he said. "People living with HIV, we speak in one voice saying we all need to be considered when we're fixing this law."

HB 167 follows last year’s attempt to pass a similar measure, but the 2018 version never made it out of committee. Rehder's bill ran out of time by the end of this year’s legislative session, but made it to the floor for debate, so she said she plans to reintroduce it next year.

“I think it’s important that we have this discussion on the floor,” Rehder said. “I think next year we’ll be very successful in getting it out of the House and over to the Senate.”

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Teaching English at Hickman High School in Columbia is Bill Morgan's passion and metaphorically speaking his saving grace.... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, August 04 2020 Aug 4, 2020 Tuesday, August 04, 2020 9:36:00 PM CDT August 04, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Current State Auditor Nicole Galloway has won the Missouri Democratic Primary for Governor. Galloway was projected to... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, August 04 2020 Aug 4, 2020 Tuesday, August 04, 2020 9:36:00 PM CDT August 04, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA- Parents showed up to Tuesday afternoon to a special board meeting at the Columbia Public Schools Administration building over... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, August 04 2020 Aug 4, 2020 Tuesday, August 04, 2020 9:26:00 PM CDT August 04, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Latest on the Missouri primary election (all times local): 11:30 Cori Bush,... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, August 04 2020 Aug 4, 2020 Tuesday, August 04, 2020 8:06:00 PM CDT August 04, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Today is Missouri's Primary Election - voters cast their ballots Tuesday to determine party candidates for governor, U.S.... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, August 04 2020 Aug 4, 2020 Tuesday, August 04, 2020 7:00:00 PM CDT August 04, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY — A Columbia man pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday of attempting to purchase with Bitcoin on the... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, August 04 2020 Aug 4, 2020 Tuesday, August 04, 2020 5:42:02 PM CDT August 04, 2020 in News
(CNN) -- A massive explosion ripped through central Beirut on Tuesday, killing dozens of people, injuring thousands and blowing out... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, August 04 2020 Aug 4, 2020 Tuesday, August 04, 2020 5:41:18 PM CDT August 04, 2020 in News
SEDALIA — The latest numbers from Pettis County show confirmed COVID-19 cases have increased over 88 percent in the last... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, August 04 2020 Aug 4, 2020 Tuesday, August 04, 2020 4:15:00 PM CDT August 04, 2020 in News
COLE COUNTY- One woman was pronounced dead Tuesday morning after a serious two-vehicle crash. According to a Missouri State... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, August 04 2020 Aug 4, 2020 Tuesday, August 04, 2020 3:58:00 PM CDT August 04, 2020 in News
The American Psychiatric Association defines depression as "a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, August 04 2020 Aug 4, 2020 Tuesday, August 04, 2020 3:00:00 PM CDT August 04, 2020 in A Brighter Tomorrow
COLUMBIA — It's primary day in Missouri, and voters are out in full at the polls. State auditor Nicole... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, August 04 2020 Aug 4, 2020 Tuesday, August 04, 2020 2:18:00 PM CDT August 04, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA — Election workers have worked hard to ensure voter safety during the pandemic. Boone County election judge coordinator... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, August 04 2020 Aug 4, 2020 Tuesday, August 04, 2020 2:05:00 PM CDT August 04, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA — The Southeastern Conference announced Tuesday adjusted dates for preseason football activity. The first allowable practice is now... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, August 04 2020 Aug 4, 2020 Tuesday, August 04, 2020 1:59:40 PM CDT August 04, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri's Department of Elementary and Secondary education issued new guidance for the upcoming school year on Monday.... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, August 04 2020 Aug 4, 2020 Tuesday, August 04, 2020 12:33:00 PM CDT August 04, 2020 in News
ST. LOUIS - Yadier Molina announced on social media on Tuesday he tested positive for COVID-19. In an Instagram... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, August 04 2020 Aug 4, 2020 Tuesday, August 04, 2020 12:12:58 PM CDT August 04, 2020 in News
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The last suspect in the killing of a transgender teen in Texas County is now on... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, August 04 2020 Aug 4, 2020 Tuesday, August 04, 2020 11:27:28 AM CDT August 04, 2020 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — Health departments in at least 50 Missouri counties have not received any money from the... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, August 04 2020 Aug 4, 2020 Tuesday, August 04, 2020 11:14:14 AM CDT August 04, 2020 in News
(Missourian) - One of Columbia’s two sales taxes for parks is scheduled to expire in 2022, so the conversation... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, August 04 2020 Aug 4, 2020 Tuesday, August 04, 2020 10:44:13 AM CDT August 04, 2020 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 62°
6am 63°
7am 63°
8am 66°
9am 70°