Several Democratic presidential candidates called for the repeal of laws that require HIV-positive individuals to disclose their status to sexual partners during last week's CNN town hall on LGBTQ issues, according to the Washington Examiner.
These HIV disclosure laws exist to make it illegal for someone to expose another person to the virus without them knowing about it and having an opportunity to give informed sexual consent with knowledge of the risk.
Cooper presented the issue to Buttigieg by pointing to drugs that exist now which make the virus "undetectable"—meaning, it can't be transmitted to someone else. That treatment advancement, Cooper argued, means laws criminalizing HIV nondisclosure are "antiquated" and "based on old science."
"It's not fair, and it needs to change," Buttigieg said of the laws.
.@PeteButtigieg says criminal penalties for not informing a sexual partner that you are HIV-positive are "unfair an… https://t.co/5ktLwHWuDv— Washington Examiner (@Washington Examiner)1570755810.0
Buttigieg didn't go into much detail about the implications of repealing these laws, however. It's one thing to say that someone who can't transmit the virus should not be subject to prison for not disclosing it, although even that is not as black-and-white as he makes it seem.
But, if you take those laws off the books and make it legal for someone with HIV to withhold the fact that they have the virus to a sexual partner, you're applying that both to people with who have "undetectable" status and those who can transmit the potentially life-threatening virus. Is it wise to trust that everyone with HIV will do the right thing in these scenarios?
This one shouldn't be extremely complicated. Are these candidates saying they would be perfectly fine with a sexual partner concealing HIV-positive status from them? Wouldn't they feel entitled to this information so they can give truly "informed consent?" That's a question that, even if candidates refuse to answer, voters will have to.