just wanted to say thank you for your discussion of hiv. tbh prior to reading about it here, i did think that it was a good idea to criminalize sex without disclosure (from my perspective as a former survival fssw who was terrified of catching it from a customer) but when you point out how laws are unevenly enforced and especially that no aspect of having an illness should be criminalized... i'm just glad i could re-evaluate my stance on the issue. thanks!
Thank you!!! You’ve made it worth it!
I think your reaction is common and understandable, and I think it’s where everyone is coming from, it’s a common nightmare that was deliberately inculcated, being unwittingly exposed to an sti by some immoral person with wicked intentions. I don’t recall any kind of HIV education until I was 17 and volunteering with Danzine that wasn’t based in scare tactics rather than actual knowledge of the disease and current medical updates. HIV, AIDS, and the people with it are all demonised or made into sad skeletal caricatures, or both, and there isn’t any discussion beyond that. And I think there’s a branch of the scare tactics specifically targeted at women, the idea of a rapist going around infecting people as slow murder, that really resonates with people.
And maybe that did happen? I don’t know.
But I do know that with that potential exception, the people who are targeted and who go to prison for non-disclosure have been low income people of colour who were actually not even having risky sex. One man was giving blow jobs. There’s no part of the newspaper accounts of Ms Mendoza’s case that even indicates what kind of sex she was having, or that she was having it without protection.
And I don’t think that should make a difference in law–I don’t think non-disclosure or any other part of someone’s medical history should be criminalised-but I also think it’s interesting and profoundly depressing that no one who wants Ms Mendoza in prison is thinking about any of this. I think it’s interesting and profoundly depressing that, despite the plentiful evidence to the contrary, people will still revert back to “laws are good and the state is here to protect us” despite YEARS of evidence to the contrary, building up to the past three years of increasing violence against people of colour and sex workers. All of that critical framework–if barbieescort ever had t, doubtful–goes out the window.
It isn’t murder. Ms Mendoza didn’t murder anyone. It’s overwhelmingly likely that she didn’t even infect anyone. But I also think about if she did. Would that person be named in newspapers as HIV+ now? Will they disclose to every sexual partner they ever have that they are HIV positive? Who will enforce this? Who will send them to jail if they do not? Also, most men who go to sex workers don’t go to just one, even in the same month or year. Could it have been another sex worker who passed it on? Or could they have given it to another sex worker, or their girlfriend? If they do transmit HIV, how will the person they gave it to know it was from them and not someone else, a sexual partner from a year ago?
Epidemiology isn’t a tidy thing with one person to blame. Even a patient zero.
And none of these people are asking themselves the above questions (which, let’s be real, are unenforceable. These laws can only be enforced against someone who is already vulnerable in some way, someone who has been arrested for something else and then found to have HIV, &c) because if they did, they’d see how INSANE the whole idea is.
Can you imagine policing people’s sexual behaviour? And once that’s condoned, what else becomes okay?