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HIV ISSUE: Criminal Transmission Case Appeal

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Attorneys for an HIV positive Iowa man went before the Iowa Court of Appeals Wednesday to argue their client didn’t violate the state’s criminal transmission law.

Police arrested Nick Rhoades in 2008 after he had protected sex with a man he’d met online. The man learned from a friend that Rhoades may have HIV and contacted police. Rhoades’ partner did not contract HIV.

On the advice of his attorney at the time, Rhoades pleaded guilty. He was originally sentenced to 25 years in prison and registration on the state’s sex offender registry.  The court suspended the prison sentence and he was placed on supervised release for a term of five years.

The state says the law in question encourages people to disclose their HIV status to their partners. The state says that’s something Rhoades didn’t do.

He previously applied for post-conviction relief in 2010 but it was denied in 2011 in district court. Now Rhoades is asking the Iowa Court of Appeals to dismiss his conviction.

Rhoades’ attorneys say since he used a condom he didn’t intentionally expose his partner to HIV.

“What we are hoping is a recognition that the statute as written does not cover conduct that is considered to be safe sex and that HIV positive individuals do in fact have the right to have sexual lives and do that in a safe and responsible way…so we’re hoping for that outcome in this case,” says Christopher Clark with Lambda Legal.

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office declined to make any comments following Wednesday’s arguments.

The decision on this case will come at a future date.