Is HIV-Positive Consensual Sex A Crime?

There are a lot of laws that revolve around HIV. It makes sense to question whether or not it is legal to have consensual, unprotected sex with a partner who is already aware of your status.The laws regarding HIV vary from state-to-state; check out this post for your specific state’s law.

This is Minnesota’s take on consensual, unprotected sex if you are HIV-positive:
In 2013, an HIV-positive Minnesota man cannot be prosecuted for engaging in consensual sex, according to the Minnesota Supreme Court. The state’s highest court in upholding the ruling by a lower court declared that Daniel James Rick cannot be held criminally liable for having consensual sex while HIV-positive after informing his sexual partner of his HIV status.

The Supreme Court’s decision affirms that the state government has a duty to respect the personal and private decisions of adults regarding sex and intimacy.

Reacting to the decision, ACLU of Minnesota praised the state’s Supreme Court decision adding that state governments cannot use criminal laws to target decisions regarding consensual sex and private actions of consenting individuals.

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“The court’s decision rightly protects Minnesotans from unconstitutional intrusions into their private conduct. Our criminal laws should not be used to target the private actions of consenting adults,” said Terri Nelson, legal director of the ACLU of Minnesota.

HIV-positive Daniel James Rick had a sexual relationship with another man, D.B., whose HIV status was not known, in 2009. Both parties agreed not to use protection (condoms) during sexual intercourse.

After the sexual relationship ended, Minnesota officials decided to prosecute Rick under the state’s “knowing transfer of a communicable disease” statute.

The jury found during trial that Rick had disclosed his HIV-positive status to his sexual partner but convicted him using a part of the law that makes it a criminal offense for individuals who are HIV-positive to engage in sexual relationship even after making their status known to their partner.

The Minnesota Appeals Court sided with the defense and reversed the conviction last year. Today the state’s Supreme Court upheld the Appeals Court decision.

“It is deeply concerning that after decades of HIV/AIDS awareness, prosecutors are targeting even private consensual conduct in cases where parties disclose their HIV status. Today’s decision marks an important step in protecting HIV-positive Minnesotans from misapplication of the criminal law,” said Chase Strangio, staff attorney with the ACLU AIDS Project.

Get tested for HIV and other common STDs, like hepatitis A, B, and C, oral herpes, genital herpes, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea, today.

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