Main | Monday, May 19, 2008

Lambda Legal Protests HIV Spitting Sentence

Saying that the saliva of HIV positive persons should not be considered a "lethal weapon", Lambda Legal has lodged a protest against last week's sentencing of a Texas man to 35 years in prison for spitting at a police officer.
A gay-rights group is protesting a 35-year prison sentence given to an HIV-positive man who was convicted of spitting on a police officer, and public health officials say the risk of contracting the AIDS virus from saliva is extremely low.


The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says no one has ever contracted the AIDS virus from spit. The Dallas County Health Department issued a statement Friday that said HIV is usually spread by sexual contact or sharing needles with an infected person or through a transfusion of tainted blood. The notice said that federal public health officials consider "the risk of HIV transmission from such fluids as saliva and tears to be extremely low."

Bebe Anderson, the HIV projects director at Lambda Legal, a gay-rights group, said the verdict could create wrong impressions about how HIV is transmitted. "It's been 25 years since the virus was identified, but there are still lots of fears," he told The Dallas Morning News for Saturday's editions. "We are still facing people losing their jobs and fighting for their children because of fears that are unfounded."
The prosecutor says, "No matter how minuscule, there is some risk. That means there is the possibility of causing serious bodily injury or death," the legal definition of a deadly weapon.

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