As charges related to HIV transmission have multipled and become more severe in Canada, there is an alarming new case in the United States:
An HIV-positive man in Michigan is
facing terrorism charges after biting another man in a neighbourhood fight,
reports the Michigan Messenger.
"Following the incident, police
were called in and after a brief investigation, placed [Daniel] Allen under
arrest and charged him with two crimes: aggravated assault, a misdemeanor
charge which carries a punishment of up to one year in jail and/or $1,000 fine
and assault with intent to maim, a 10-year felony."
But after Allen told the local FOX news
station that he is HIV-positive, prosecutors decided to seek additional
"On Nov 2, [prosecutor Eric] Smith’s office amended
its complaint to add a charge of possession or use of a harmful device,” reports the Michigan Messenger. “That
law is a 25-year felony and was part of a 2004 package of terrorism laws
created by the legislature in the wake of the Sep 11, 2001, attacks."
HIV experts note that it is nearly impossible to transmit HIV through biting. Catherine Hanssens, executive director of the NYC-based Center for HIV Law and Policy, told the Michigan Messenger that the terrorism charges aren’t warranted.
"It’s just nonsense. It’s
cowardly. It’s the kind of thing that
keeps kids [with HIV] out of day care and camps and allows kids [with HIV] to
be kicked out of karate,” she says. “It’s continuing the boogey-man characterization of people with HIV."
(h/t to gay men’s health activist Trevor
Hoppe, who rightly filed this story under “Fucked Up Bullshit"
on his blog)
Read more about the criminalization of HIV on Xtra.ca:
- Beyond the courts: How do we stop the spread of HIV without dividing our communities?
- Time to stand against the criminalization of HIV
- Finding a way out of the HIV criminalization loop
- Canada’s record of criminalization creep
- HIV stigma radiates from behind the bench
- The re-criminalization of queer sex
- First rally on Parliament Hill to protest criminalization of HIV