HIV BILL: Unanimously Passes In Senate

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At the Iowa Statehouse, lawmakers are trying to update what some say is an outdated law.

Currently, people who fail to tell their partner they are HIV Positive face lengthy prison sentences.

The current HIV bill dates back to 1998 and critics say it comes with a one-size fits all penalty for people with HIV who are sexually active.

Supporters of the bill say the updated version will help save lives.

“This is an incredible first step to improve the law and to encourage the testing and treatment that is so important,” says CHAIN (Community HIV/Hepatitis Advocates of Iowa Network) organizer, Tami Haught.

Haught has been HIV positive for 20 years and has led the charge on updating the bill.

Under the current law, it doesn't matter if a person transmits HIV to a partner or not, they face the same penalty if they don't disclose the disease beforehand.

The proposed bill allows a tiered system ranging from a serious misdemeanor to a class B felony, depending on the situation.

Thursday, the bill passed unanimously in the Senate.

Supporters say they hope if passed, the bill helps change the way people look at the disease.

“I think a change in the law will help people look at people living with AIDS/HIV in a different way, we`ll lose some of the stigma, and stereotyping some of the biases around people with AIDS/HIV,” says One Iowa Executive Director Donna Red Wing.

A House committee has until March 14th to move the bill to the floor for a vote. However, supporters are optimistic the bill will pass the House and be signed into law.

If passed, the new legislation would not only apply to HIV but tuberculosis, hepatitis and meningitis as well.