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Should STD laws be repealed?

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases are dangerous, which is why people need to utilize STD testing services for the sake of not just their own health, but of their future sexual partners as well. If they do not, they may spread a potentially life-threatening infection or virus on to others. Furthermore, people who pass on an STD to a sexual partner may have more than their wellbeing and that of the person they had sex with to worry about, they may find themselves facing legal ramifications as well.

For example, The Huffington Post reported an adult film actor was recently sentenced to jail for exposing two co-stars to syphilis. This was a controversial move that shone light on the STD laws that exist in the U.S. The news source explained that criminal prosecution of people who spread HIV has been around for more than 20 years, and many people are calling for these laws to be overturned.

"The law in most states is that a person with an STD must disclose that to their partner before engaging [in sexual activity]," attorney Matthew Blit, who specializes in discrimination suits and sexually transmitted disease law, told the news source. "Most of our clients go the civil route. But it's a very tricky area because it has to do with the disclosure of medical records and we can face a very big challenge. They are very difficult to win. The facts need to align perfectly."

Controversial laws
The Huffington Post explained that the adult film star in the center for this most recent case was sentenced to 30 days in jail as well as 36 months probation and 15 days of community labor for exposing his co-stars to syphilis. The man had tested positive for syphilis received a penicillin shot. He claimed that when he shot the film in question less than two weeks later he believed he was free of the STD.

The news source spoke to Scott Burris, a professor of law at Temple University, who said he believes that many of the laws that prosecute people with STDs are outdated and based on misinformation that stemmed from the intense fear people experienced in the early days of the HIV crisis in the U.S.

California U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, agrees with Burris and has co-written a bill that calls for states to amend or repeal criminal laws that are specifically geared toward HIV-positive individuals.

"These laws are based on bias, not science," Lee told The Post. "We need to make sure that our federal and state laws don't discriminate against people who are living with HIV. These laws breed fear, discrimination, distrust and hatred, and we've got to modernize them. That's exactly what this legislation would do."

More on STD laws
According to, civil lawsuits are common when it comes to dealing with cases where people spread STDs to others. Partners can sue people for negligence or personal injury, and individuals may end up having to pay substantial fees to their partner.

Regardless of what the laws are, people should still tell their partners if they are diagnosed with an STD so they can get tested and treated as soon as possible. As with all other diseases, STDs should be treated as early as possible in order to minimize the damage they do to the body. If left untreated, many STDs can lead to infertility, pain and swelling of the genitals and even death. For all of these reasons, people should utilize STD testing services often and tell their partners if any of the tests reveal that they have chlamydia, syphilis, HIV or any other STD.

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