Bill to require disclosure of HIV or AIDS passes House committee

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SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that requires someone to disclose their HIV or AIDS status before engaging in any sexual activity or face a criminal penalty has passed a House Committee.

Rep. Justin Fawson’s House Bill 369 passed out of committee Friday morning over objections from the ranking Democrat on the committee and an LGBT rights group. In an interview with FOX 13, Rep. Fawson said his bill would enhance the penalties if someone engaged in sexual activity with someone and did not disclose if they had HIV or AIDS.

“It doesn’t criminalize HIV, it only criminalizes the act. So if someone’s HIV positive and they disclose, there’s no problem,” Rep. Fawson, R-North Ogden, told FOX 13. “There’s always a potential of transmitting HIV. We can’t reduce that to zero. They have to inform a partner that they are HIV positive.”

LGBT and AIDS support groups have expressed concerns that HB369 “criminalizes” people with HIV and would drive people away from testing, treatment or even disclosure.

Troy Williams, the executive director of the LGBT rights group Equality Utah, told lawmakers they were “starting down a path toward criminalizing people with HIV.”

Some lawmakers on the committee rejected that idea — saying they weren’t criminalizing HIV, but the act of non-disclosure.

“To knowingly put another person at risk of harm to their body,” Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan, said. “Why should that not be a crime?”

Rep. Bruce Cutler, R-Murray, proposed expanding the bill to include failure to disclose any sexually transmitted infection, but the committee voted that down.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 9-2 to send the bill to the full House of Representatives for debate.