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HIV LEGISLATION: ‘Archaic’ Law Rescinded

A national celebration in Grinnell, over a law that passed in Iowa.

For years critics have complained about a law that they call “draconian”, criminalizing some people living with HIV.

For eight months, Nick Rhoades lived with a criminal GPS bracelet on his ankle. Tuesday night it was cut off, symbolic, he says, of cutting the shackles that have kept him a prisoner; doing punishment, he says, that did not fit his crime.

“It’s been long time,” Rhoades said. “Your battery runs low at a double shift at work, you have to pull out your charger. Maybe go to the restroom to charge. It’s embarrassing.“

Rhoades pled guilty five years ago under the state’s HIV Criminal Transmission Law, passed in 1998, to having sex with another man without telling that man he was HIV positive. Even though he says his viral counts were low and he used a condom, Rhoades could have faced up to 25-years in prison, and is now listed on the sex offender registry.

Last week, the governor signed a bill that backers say takes the focus off people with HIV.
“Iowa is the first state to rescind the archaic HIV criminalization and replace it with something that really looks at HIV like it looks at hepatitis, looks at HPV. It makes HIV not a criminal act,” said Donna Red Wing with One Iowa.

The new law gets Rhoades off the sex offender registry next month and his probation is up soon. But it will be up to the Supreme Court to decide whether to overturn his felony conviction.

HIV LEGISLATION: ‘Archaic’ Law Rescinded

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