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That’s not a surprise, because Rhoades used a condom.
“And they lull people who are not HIV-positive — or at least think they are not HIV-positive — into believing that they don’t have to do anything.Officially, the charge, buried in Chapter 709 of the Iowa code, is “criminal transmission of HIV.” But no transmission had occurred.The man Rhoades had sex with, 22-year-old Adam Plendl, had not contracted the virus.“Shifting the burden of HIV disclosure from the infected person, who is aware of a known danger, to one who is completely unaware of their partner’s condition smacks of a ‘blame the victim’ sort of mentality,” Jerry Vander Sanden, a prosecutor in Linn County, Iowa, wrote in an email to Pro Publica.“It would be like telling a rape victim that they should have been more careful.” Even many people with HIV support the laws.Last spring, they married at a ceremony in the Bronx.
“It took me a long time to propose, because I thought I would die,” he recalled.
The laws, these experts say, could exacerbate this problem: If people can be imprisoned for knowingly exposing others to HIV, their best defense may be ignorance.
Such laws, then, provide a powerful disincentive for citizens to get tested and learn if they carry the virus.
Nick Rhoades was clerking at a Family Video store in Waverly, Iowa, one summer afternoon in 2008 when three armed detectives appeared, escorted him to a local hospital and ordered nurses to draw his blood.
A dozen miles away, his mother and stepfather looked on as local sheriff’s deputies searched their home for drugs — not illegal drugs, but lifesaving prescription medications.
But some health and legal experts say using criminal penalties to curtail the epidemic could backfire and fuel the spread of HIV.