Last week Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Clowney tweeted a picture of his HIV negative test results. In a follow up tweet he wrote, “Everyone should get tested!! Don't wait till HIV/AIDS Awareness Day to find out if you have it or not!!”
His efforts are well intentioned, and yet because of the criminalization of people living with HIV, it is important that people understand what it means to know your status if results come back positive.
While some health care professionals will provide an in-depth consultation including treatment options, if someone’s results come back positive, almost no one talks about the legal ramifications of knowing you have HIV.
The Positive Justice Project has created a checklist for people living with HIV who are at risk or, are facing criminal prosecution for HIV Nondisclosure or Exposure.
· DO try to have proof that you told your partner your HIV status BEFORE SEX.
· DO NOT EMAIL anything that ever could be used against you or that shows a desire to keep your HIV status secret, or that expresses any worries you have about revealing your HIV status to a partner.
· DO talk to your health care provider about the fact that you tell your partners about your HIV status before sex (oral, anal, penile-vaginal). Ask your provider to document this and show you where it is written in your file.
· CONSIDER taking your partner with you to a doctor or case manager visit so the doctor or case manager can document having talked with both of you about your HIV status.
· DO tell your doctor and other health care providers to NOT disclose or discuss your medical information to the police without a court order (different from a subpoena).
· KNOW the law in your state.
· DO NOT TALK to the police or answer questions about your situation without a lawyer. If you are questioned or approached before being arrested, say nothing. Just politely ask if you are being charged with a crime.
· DO NOT TELL the police or detective that you are HIV positive and DO NOT consent to an HIV test.
Reading this checklist can be disheartening. It is good to talk it over with others. For more information visit: HIV Law and Policy.