The gay DJ I wrote about two months ago who was prosecuted for not disclosing his HIV status and having sex with men is back in trouble with the law:
On Sept. 6, Q-Notes reported that Joshua Waldon Weaver, 23, who works in clubs in Raleigh and Wilmington, pleaded guilty to charges that he failed to disclose his HIV-positive status and engaged in unprotected sex with three people. Weaver was given a suspended jail sentence and placed on probation. The terms of his probation ordered Weaver to use protection when engaging in sexual activity.
About two weeks ago Weaver was arrested after Wake County Public Health officials contacted his probation officer with information that he had possibly violated court orders by having sex without a condom. Assistant District attorney Boz Zellinger told The News & Observer that health officials became aware of the DJ's violation after he contracted another sexually transmitted disease that could have been prevented by the use of a condom.
I was skeptical at first about the efficacy of these laws, but consider me convinced! Obviously, prosecuting this man turned him around!
Sarcasm aside, this case shows that these laws just don't work, yet again. I wrote in September:
Whether or not an HIV positive person has a "moral obligation" to disclose isn't the issue here. Laws that attempt to create a sexual morality simply don't work (was there no gay sex going on in states with sodomy laws before Lawrence?). And if we want people to be more open with information, threatening to throw them in jail won't help any.
And obviously this person has his reasons and prosecution isn't going to change them.
But saying that they don't work assumes that these laws are about keeping people safer, a flawed assumption if ever there was any. They're not about increasing disclosure - they're about politicians who want to look tough against diseases and immoral behavior passing a law to campaign on.
Especially considering that they found out that Weaver had had unprotected sex because he caught another STD. Are the police concerned with finding this unfeeling monster who had unprotected sex with an HIV positive man without disclosing the fact that he had this other disease? I wouldn't hold my breath on that one.
No one's saying that people shouldn't disclose their status before having sex. They definitely should. But making it legally required to tell does nothing to address this situation. All it does is take one off the most idiotic ideas that gay men came up with, "It's OK not to use condoms since he would have told me if he had it" and attaches the phrase "because he's required by law to disclose."
These laws are not the actions of a government that wants to protect people from a disease. A government that wants to do that invests in education campaigns related to prevention. A government that wants to curtail this disease funds and mandates scientifically-based comprehensive sex education in all classrooms. A government that's sincerely working against this disease distributes condoms in prison. A government that wants to ease the suffering caused by this disease would enact a national health care program to ensure that Americans can afford the life-saving drugs to treat this disease.
Our government can't get off its ass to make a decent effort to fight this disease, so prosecuting these folks is nothing more than passing the blame off to the first convenient target. It shifts the burden onto one group of already-maligned people and let's the rest of us wash our hands and pretend like something was done.
People should know by now that they have to use a condom unless they've gotten tested together or run the risk of seroconverting. If they don't know, there needs to be more education.
But not prosecution. Because that doesn't change minds, it increases suffering and gives people another reason to avoid getting tested.