Know Your StatusFrom The Grio — Know your status. Know your status. Know your status.

The message comes at us from community organizations, government-sponsored health initiatives, signage at bus terminals and nightclubs, and even more increasingly, from the pulpits of churches. It’s everywhere. And black women are responding and being more empowered about their health because of it. There’s been a significant increase in HIV testing within that group in just the last three years. That’s a good thing — a fantastic thing.

With that awareness, however, comes what some consider unfortunate consequence. In an effort to derail the purposeful transmission of HIV—and there have been an appalling number of such cases—37 states have enacted criminalization laws making the deliberate spread of HIV illegal. In some states, it’s as punishable as carrying a concealed weapon without a license.

In Montana, it’s a misdemeanor to consciously expose another person to any sexually transmitted disease, which basically limits an infected person’s ability to have intercourse at all.

In California, it’s felonious to knowingly have HIV and engage in unprotected sex with the intent to infect, punishable by five to nine years in prison.

Those laws don’t take into consideration her partner’s HIV status. It also doesn’t consider whether the partner knew that the women was HIV-positive but consented anyway.

Being unaware of her status can affect a woman’s health, but being aware and attempting to live a normal life can legally intimidate her and, in the most perverse instances, make her susceptible to blackmail by abusive partners.

What lawmakers initially created as an effort to protect citizens and control the epidemic has become a control mechanism for some black women living with HIV.

“There are some states that have expanded their laws to the point where anyone who is HIV-positive is subject to a broader legal interpretation, and that can jeopardize women’s reproductive rights,” explains Valerie Rochester, director of programs and training for the Black Women’s Health Imperative.

(Continue Reading @ The Grio…)

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  • WhyThis?

    Geez, can we NOT be the face of HIV?

    If you’re out there messing around with whoever just got out of prison, or has mulitple kids, or 50-11 expartners, then don’t be surprised if something comes up. And what’s the socio-economic status of all of these new “cases”? I’ve heard of a few outbreaks in some innercity high schools, and those kids were from the worst neighborhoods around. Every other group uses class distinctions, why can’t we? “Christina” probably wasn’t raised in the same type of household as “Bolinqua”, so there is no reason to rope in the former with the latter.

  • lol

    if black women protected themselves more, they wouldn’t have to be victims at all. let’s concentrate on that.meanwhile folks, it is what it is, other folks gotta be protected from folks with HIV that are careless and spread it around, sometimes intentionally.

  • Truth Teller

    The truth is this is a black gay and drug injecting black man diease. The are spreading it by having sex with each other and black women. Heterosexual, non drug injecting black men have an extremely low almost negligible HIV rate.

  • Truth Teller

    The liberal media includes ALL black men in this epidemic because they don’t want the spotlight on GAYS and black women. Heterosexual, non drug injecting black men shouldn’t even be in the HIV conversation but no one wants to tell the truth. I saw a study where men married to HIV positive women having unprotected sex had a 20% infection rate after 5 years of unprotected sex. HIV is being spread by black gay and drug injecting men having sex with each other and black women.

    Per CDC About 87% of young black males got HIV from male to male s3x, 6% from heteros3xual s3x, 2% from injection drug use and about 5% from a combination of male to male sex and injection drug use. About 86% of young females got HIV through heteros3xual sex. These women were infected by Gay or Drugh using Black Men. 13% of black women were infected from injection drug use.

    • KGA25

      You sound like an idiot. Your type ignorance is probably why so many don’t get tested, and spreads this horrible virus.

  • Bonjour

    I just think everyone needs to be careful out there whether they’re black, white, hispanic, indian, etc etc. I mean anybody can catch it.