Forty-five U.S. states have made failure to do so a criminal offense. Two-thirds of HIV-positive adults are not aware of that.
"HIV criminalization is the biggest driver of stigma in our society," said Sean Strub, the HIV-positive founder of the SERO Project, a non-profit human rights organization combatting HIV-related stigma by conducting original research, briefings, forums and meetings around the country aimed at ending inappropriate criminal prosecutions of people with HIV.
"After all," said Strub, "what is more stigmatizing than when the government enshrines criminalization in the law, making different laws for different groups of people based on an immutable characteristic" such as HIV infection? The result, he said, is the creation of "a viral underclass of persons with rights inferior to others, especially in regard to their sexual expression."
Consider Nick Rhoades, an HIV-positive gay man in Iowa, going about his life. Faithful adherence to his medications rendered Rhoades' HIV infection undetectable. Studies indicate those with undetectable virus are up to 96 percent less likely to transmit the virus to someone else. Rhoades arranged a sexual encounter with a man he met online. Neither of them spoke about HIV.