HIV INJUSTICE?

Man With HIV Arrested After Seeking Sex On Social Media

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 11.12.29 AMA Missouri man has been charged with attempting to expose another person to HIV in what is a worrying use of police resources and reach.

According to an AP report, “Police say that on Monday, [Robert] Smith met with an undercover detective and sought to have sex, denying that he was HIV-positive. Police say there are no known victims, but they urge anyone with concerns to come forward.”

Related: Are Criminal HIV Transmission Laws Outdated?

Details remain sparse, such as how did police know he had HIV? and what were they doing targeting him in an undercover sting on Craigslist?

More troubling is the fact that the arrest comes hot off the heels of the conviction of Michael Brown, also in Missouri. Brown was found guilty of “recklessly transmitting HIV” and given a hefty 30-year prison sentence.

Related: College Wrestler Gets 30 Years In Prison For “Recklessly Transmitting HIV”

Writing for the HIV Justice Network, Edwin Bernard notes that Smith “is now charged with attempted (sexual) HIV exposure, which is, in fact, not actually a crime in Missouri. It is only a crime to attempt to donate blood, organs or sperm knowing you are HIV-positive. Otherwise you have to have acted in a reckless manner and engaged in sex without disclosure.”

Knowingly spreading HIV is clearly a serious matter, but both the American Medical Association and the Infectious Diseases Society of America have publicly condemned laws criminalizing HIV, citing among other things, a failure to actually reduce infection rates.

Entrapment, however, is very much a crime in Missouri. We’re not sure how Smith’s arrest could be seen as anything but.

via POZ.com

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67 Comments

  • Arcamenel

    This is disgusting all around.

  • Benjamin Tarsa

    This seems absolutely ridiculous

  • Brian JC Kneeland

    So I”m guessing they have proof his reason was to spread HIV! If not – then they have nothing to arrest him for!

  • Justinius Phoenix

    SO he met up “for sex” and didn’t disclose his status… unless he was balls deep in the cop without a condom and not undetectable (current studies have proven a ZERO transmission rate from HIV Undetectable individuals), he was in no way knowing trying to pass the virus to anyone. I am also concerned how the cops (since there is apparently no complaints of him doing this) ascertained his HIV status in the first place to go through the steps to set up a sting operation. If any medical personal is responsible for this it is a serious breach of HEPA. I think I will wait to see what other information arises though before i pass judgement on eith this person or the police. Since this has happened in the wait of the other case, it is quite possible that the defendant in the other case in exchange for a reduction in his sentence revealed names of others he knew to be doing the same thing. An in time i think if that is true it will come to light. Otherwise this is all BS and they may be just staking out HIV treatment centers to see who is or isn’t then seeing if they can catch anyone. If that is the case It is clearly entrapment, stalking, and serious violation of the persons rights to privacy, and could ultimately lead individuals who are looking to go get tested to not do so and as such increase transmission rates among those who are HIV Unknown

  • Rick Stowell

    If he has an undetectable viral load, his chances of spreading HIV is nil. Is it ethical not to disclose your status in that circumstance? That’s up for debate. Criminal? Um, no.

  • aliengod

    How is this “troubling”? Thank god they’re catching and prosecuting these disgusting creeps before they impose a death sentence on their unsuspecting victims. If you know you’re HIV positive, you have an obligation to tell your sexual partners. If you lie about your status and intentionally infect others, you deserve to be locked up. Above all, be safe and wear a damn condom!

  • Ummmm Yeah

    Good for the cops. If he’s trying to spread a disease on purpose he belongs in jail.

  • Stache99

    @aliengod: So none of this makes any difference to you…”Police say there are no known victims, but they urge anyone with concerns to come forward.”

    If you think it’s a good idea that someone should be set up in an entrapment situation just because of their HIV status then maybe you want to go back to the good ol days when all gays were hunted down like this. Great idea. Lets support the police having unlimited power to harass people.

    Then again your the resident troll and being a shithead to get attention is your thing.

  • Stache99

    @Brian JC Kneeland: This is just old fashioned harassment of gay men. I think them finding out that he was hiv positive was secondary to this sting.

  • montana88

    Did no one else notice they said Michael Brown instead of Michael Johnson? That’s kind of a big error

  • Me2

    This first problem here is the expectation that all total strangers are going to truthfully reveal their HIV status’ to other total strangers. Running into vile, selfish, liars is the risk that we all take when we “hook-up”. The next issue here is how the heck did the cops know his status? I can think of a few ways that they may have found out, all of which are serious breaches of privacy laws. So are we trading privacy for protection now? Either way, the harsh, but very realistic lesson that I’ve learned over the years about HIV is: YOU are responsible for yourself!! Don’t depend on someone else, especially a stranger, to be honest.

    • Stache99

      @SportGuy: I fully support them lying. Since some of you want imprisonment no matter what the circumstances instead of taking your own personal responsibility.

      Asking anyone is just stupid anyways. What is it that your trying to establish? I’ve had sex with many different positive partners and am fully ok with that. I don’t ask because I don’t need to. Yes we play safe. You making this into a big deal only means that you want to do it bareback yourself or your just an asshole who wants the state to take care of your stupid ass.

  • SportGuy

    Glad they are doing something about these guys. If you flat out lie when asked by a potential sexual partner about your status, then you should be arrested.

  • aliengod

    @Stache99: I’m going to overlook your personal attack on me and admit that I see your point. When I first read the article, I focused entirely on the idea that this scumbag was intentionally infecting others with HIV. But I do see your point about the possibility of entrapment and the fact that police have way too much power these days.

  • Realityis

    I’m HIV positive.

    If you are HIV positive, even undetectable for 21 years like I’ve been, you have the obligation of telling any sex partner about your status. PERIOD.

    If you lie about it or don’t acknowledge it and have bareback sex, you are at the very minimum, guilty of being an asshole POS.

    That is all.

  • Stache99

    @aliengod: Sorry. If anyone was doing it intentionally then I would agree 100% with you.

  • Finrod

    So it’s now effectively illegal for people in Missouri with HIV to have sex. I’m sure that this will be applied evenhandedly to heterosexuals as well as to us, right? Right?

    This : Jim Crow Laws :: The Supreme Court Marriage Decision : Abolition

  • BigG

    It should be the law everywhere.

  • jason smeds

    HIV is very difficult to catch. In any case, why aren’t the authorities prosecuting women for spreading HIV? Why is it always the men they go after? Double standard.

  • Realityis

    @Finrod @Stache99 It’s not about an HIV positive guy having sex with someone else, it’s about intentionally spreading the disease to someone else. I’ve been undetectable for 21 years and I tell any potential sex partner, that I am positive. Yeah it sucks if they don’t want to go ahead, but at least I feel good about myself.

    Finding out you became positive because someone lied to you is infuriating and humiliating at the same time. It’s how I became infected. Unfortunately I can’t take him to court because he died in 94.

    Even if I knew for a fact, 100%, that I wasn’t infectious because I’ve been detectable all these years, It’s still my responsibility to let someone make an informed decision.

    We need to fu*king end this disease people. I may have to die with it in me, but I hope that they bring the cure out in the next 20 years….

  • SportGuy

    @Realityis: You are a stand up guy for informing your partners.

  • nature boy

    @Justinius Phoenix: oh man, I hope his lawyer reads your comment and uses your ” balls deep” argument to cross examine the arresting officer in court. I also agree, his viral load is relevant to the charges.

  • Bob LaBlah

    A lot of children were born with HIV and are now adults. I really do feel sorry for them the most to have to have spent their developing years more or less in a plastic…..well, anyway.

  • topshelf

    Regardless of how much anyone wants to ignore it, HIV is still a life crippling disease for a lot of people. There are a lot of unknowns about this particular case, such as why they targeted this man and how they knew of his status. But anyone who lies about their health, and willingly exposes someone to any life threatening disease deserves to be prosecuted for it.

    • nature boy

      @topshelf: yes, more information needed here. Your phrase “willingly exposes someone to life threatening disease” is key to this issue. There’s a lot of safe play that can happen without requiring disclosure. There’s a lot of dirty talk and fantasy that can happen without actually putting a person at risk or requiring disclosure. Maybe this guy was all talk and no action. I am HIV- and have no problem with someone who is HIV+ not disclosing their status as long as they are not doing anything unsafe. I see it as my responsibility to protect myself anyway. I would draw the line in this case if they actually ejaculated inside somebody, that I do consider reckless. Also if they lied and said they were negative AND then performed unsafe sex that would be wrong. But failure to disclose in and of itself should not be a crime as long as there is no actual endangerment.

  • Arcamenel

    It was Michael Johnson in Missouri not Micheal Brown. Come on now.

  • Justin Gonder

    if queerty has such legitimate concerns about this case, then why are they recirculating this man’s mugshot?

  • NWMan

    HIV does not cause AIDS!!! This website is just another propaganda source for the drug companies. hIV tests give false positives as anything from a cold , the flue, poor nutrition or even being of African descent. Do your homework people and stop the insanity ! Innocent people like this man are suffering because of these bogus HIV tests. Listen to the how positive are you podcast for starts. I’m sure queerly will censor my comment but here it is briefly

  • Will Moor

    I have been lied to before. THANK GOD I always insisted on condoms back when I was single and hooking up. Wearing them myself when topping and my sexual partner wearing them when I was bottoming. ALWAYS use protection guys because ANYBODY can lie to you, even someone you have known for years and thought you could trust. I had to find out from somebody I barely knew that someone that I had sex with was positive and he was a friend of several years. WAS a friend. He is not in my life anymore. The jerk wanted to bareback me too, but I refused. I wanted to bareback me knowing that he was HIV positive and he lied to me and told me that he wasn’t. His lie put me in danger and it destroyed our friendship. Waiting around for the test results (I took a home saliva test AND went to the clinic and had a blood test because I wanted to be doubly sure) was the scariest period of my life, because I kept having that niggling thought “condoms aren’t 100% effective” over and over as I waited. Anyway, I am HIV Negative and plan to stay that way. So always use condoms, if you are the one bottoming, always *insist* on a condom, never *ever* give in and always get tested every 6 months. That is my advice. They may not be 100% effective, but they definitely help.

  • Chris

    Even if the police know this man’s status for a fact, it still looks like entrapment.

    This case raises a larger question: How could the Police know whether or not this guy is positive? If MO (like FL) has a registry of names of people who have tested positive for HIV and if the police accessed that list to set this guy up, then the police are probably breaking all sorts of medical-confidentiality laws.

  • Realityis

    @nature boy: I agree with you Nature boy on pretty much everything you say.

    Personally, I do feel comfortable getting it all out in the open beforehand, but if it’s safe sex and consensual, then no I don’t believe one has to disclose.

  • Alex Rothwell

    This is crazy to me, lots wrong, of course the location where this man lives, is probably not so sympathetic to any one with HIV.

  • Bob LaBlah

    @Chris: I don’t find it hard to believe (considering this is Missouri) that a nurse, doctor, patient blood taker….was on a cruising website and recognized his picture and reported him.

    It does not shock me at all this is where this “must be reported to the health department” shit requited by some states has gone. One is treated by a doctor, not the county health department. I thought there was a thing called the HIPPA Law but obviously Missouri is seeing a market in the form of prisons with people and HIV and decided to say fuck the HIPPA law. And what a money maker it will be considering the high cost of incarceration and care for the patients/prisoners it will serve, all paid for by the government these conservative bastards claim to hate. Lock’um up, give them a bible and wait for the monthly statement (and their retirement) to arrive is the order of the day.

    I am waiting next for the adult to be arrested who was BORN with HIV. There is no end to where this IS going to go.

  • Shazam Paname

    I just want to say this: you meet someone. Then you decide both to have bareback sex. It means you both accepted the risk. Period. 50/50. Nowadays it is obvious that people who want not to use condoms are poz. Unless the accuser is an idiot. Get this.

  • Random

    This is scandalous. The police involved in this should be arrested and tried, and if found to be in breach of the law, should be put behind bars for a very long time.

    And contrary to what many people believe, criminalising non-disclosure of HIV is actually putting people at MORE risk and there is no evidence to suggest that it helps to reduce new infections. The Avert website states:

    ”The criminalisation of those living with HIV has negative implications, including the prosecution of people unaware of their status, potential stigmatisation of HIV, and misapplication of the law, resulting in a disincentive to HIV testing.”

  • Shazam Paname

    No debate with undetectibility, for me. You are responsible for what you do. Poz or neg. People have the right to do what they want, including the risks involved in this case.

  • Nyroy Dixon

    If he knew he had hiv than its not just his Decision to make. I get it must be hard but he should’ve said before hand and to all the idiots that are saying he shouldn’t have to because of condoms go do your research! Bareback or not he should give his sexual partners the choice with full facts! Not fair to knowing play roulette with someone else’s life!

  • Mark Sparky Evans

    It’s a very interesting debate and a tough thing to set laws for and police.
    Comes down to ultimately removing stigma, getting people on meds and taking them properly.

  • Kangol

    Queerty writes: More troubling is the fact that the arrest comes hot off the heels of the conviction of Michael Brown, also in Missouri. Brown was found guilty of “recklessly transmitting HIV” and given a hefty 30-year prison sentence.

    Queerty, former college wrestler MICHAEL JOHNSON of St. Charles, Missouri was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison for not informing a sexual partner of his serostatus.

    MICHAEL BROWN was shot dead and left to lie in the street for 4 hours in Ferguson, Missouri.

    These are two different young black men, one soon to be locked away for much of the rest of his adult life, the other killed before he even had a chance to start college.

    This is a sloppy and offensive mistake and you can do better, Queerty, you really can.

    • Stache99

      @Nyroy Dixon: He shouldn’t have to and like I said before. You would be an idiot to be telling everyone you meet because all it would take is one big drama queen like yourself using it against him for whatever had her upset at any given moment.

  • Clark35

    @Realityis: Well said. Plus you have people who foolishly claim that just because someone is HIV+ but undetectable that this means they simply cannot infect someone else with HIV or get infected with another strain or the strain they have. SMH.

  • Michael Cavalier

    A.) It will be difficult to prove “intent to transmit the HIV virus.
    B.) Looks like Entrapment to me, not to mention targeting him for his sexuality and Poz status.
    C.) HIV criminalization laws are absurd. Such laws are clearly derived from fear and ignorance, served on a bed of homophobia and intolerance.

    Many other health issues, if passed to people with compromised immune systems, can cause severe illness or death. How about the Flu, Hepatitis, Syphilis, Herpes, HPV, and so on? Oh…that’s right…they aren’t “Gay” diseases.

    SMH

  • Steve Carey

    It isn’t fair.
    Everyone play roulette with bareback sex whether they are negative or not.
    I do it all the times.
    I’m HIV positive.
    I don’t tell them sometimes.
    Some guys are on prep.
    Yet, they still do bareback with anyone – negative or positive.

  • Jacob23

    lol! Love to read the squeals of outrage from this warped little corner of the internet. When that wrestler was convicted and sentenced to 30 years, the party line was “It’s because he’s Black!” Well, now you have the same state going after a white defendant, so you should all feel very relieved. BTW. another white defendant is in prison in Missouri after potentially exposing as many as 300 men. When asked why he did it, he said it was because he “feared rejection.”

    At some point, it is going to sink in that one’s selfish desire for orgasm doesn’t justify putting the health and lives of others at risk. If you put others at risk, you will face the consequences. Whether the other guy is dumb or naive is irrelevant. You will not put others at risk. And whatever mental and ethical gymnastics you perform to justify it won’t give you any comfort when you are in court facing a prosecutor.

    Two other points: Although there are some factual questions about how the police knew about him and his status, there is no reason to believe that this was “entrapment.” Entrapment occurs when law enforcement entices a citizen to engage in criminal act when he was not otherwise disposed to do so. If police initiated contact with him and repeatedly solicited sex despite his saying “no” – that would be entrapment. But if he has posts up on social media inviting offers for hookups, then the disposition is already there and there can be no entrapment. Also, the fact that there was no intercourse here does not mean there was no crime. An attempted crime is still a crime, for example when one plans a robbery or tries to bribe an official. It’s still a criminal act even if the plan never goes through to completion.

  • Doughosier

    It most definitely should be a crime to lie about your status!

    • nature boy

      @Doughosier: While we’re at it, let’s also make it a crime for people not to practice safe sex all the time and take responsibility for their own health.

    • Stache99

      @Doughosier: I agree Doug! It’s time we start criminalizing that and everything I disagree with. I get slutty and get knocked up at a bath house. Well, that’s just criminal and someone needs to go to prison!

  • Realityis

    Some of you guys just don’t get it. If someone wants to bareback and doesn’t CARE about the other persons status then fu*king go for it… dam. This isn’t about that. This is about guys who are either being lie to or misled about the other persons’ status.

    Don’t you think it’s fair to them to at least be able to make an informed decision? I mean really, stop being so dammed selfish and think about others for a change… And Steve Carey, not very smart of you admit that you do it, unless that’s not your real name…

    • Stache99

      @Realityis: I’m in total agreement with you on that. Being dishonest is where I pull the line. However, it’s not the Hiv positive persons responsibility to make sure everyone is responsible.

      I’m also fine with Steve’s response. No where did he say he’s dishonest with anyone. There is a stigma which has nothing to do with logic. His position is completely understandable.

  • Stache99

    Err..draw the line.

  • topshelf

    @nature boy:

    I don’t disagree. But if someone lies and says that they’re HIV- when they are really HIV+ in order to bed someone, that’s deliberately exposing someone to an incurable disease without their consent. Which is deceitful and criminal, just as if it were any other infectious disease. Both partners must be able to choose what they are open to exposing themselves to, and the levels of precaution they should take.

  • Jacob23

    @Philip Neumann: Yes, you moron, we know that HIV is not a crime. Knowingly exposing others to HIV is a crime.

    Regarding the claim above by some that you are free to assume that the other guy “doesn’t care” about your status: If the other guy “doesn’t care,” then you should have no reluctance to disclose. You’ll tell him your status and give him the chance to give informed consent. He’ll say, “Thanks for telling me. I understand and I don’t care. Let’s go to bed.” And there’s no legal liability after that.

    But, of course, a small number of depraved people do have a problem with disclosing to that guy who supposedly just doesn’t care. And it is a problem for them precisely because they understand that the other guy does care, and that disclosure would impact his decision as to whether to proceed with sex. Disclosure would imperil an opportunity for sexual intercourse. And because these folks value their orgasm above all else and detest all obstacles to their getting it, they don’t want to disclose. Because they are fundamentally selfish, driven by self-interest and lacking in human empathy, the law must step in and give them an additional factor to consider, i.e. criminal prosecution, when weighing whether to disclose.

    • nature boy

      I guess you guys may be younger and have some naive faith in human nature and honesty, and then think the police and criminal system will somehow make it all right. The very first person I talked to when I moved to a gay community in the early ’90’s warned me, “take care of yourself, people will lie to you about their status.” I took it to heart and took care of myself. Someone did lie to me but it wasn’t the end of the world because we had only had safe sex anyway. Long story short 21 years later we’re still together, he’s still poz and I’m still neg.

      Criminalizing this very human behavior and prosecuting people isn’t going to stop it happening, and prosecution after the fact is not going to turn the victim back to negative after they have became infected. As many knowledgeable people have stated, criminalization will actually discourage people from getting tested and behaving responsibly.

      Also, hate to break it to you, but the police and the court system are not always fair and balanced. Give them a tool to harass, arrest, abuse, and prosecute gay people, much less gay people with AIDS, and these small town cops and courts will do exactly that. You may not believe it until you’ve experienced it— I have. You think cops, lawyers, and court officers won’t lie through their teeth and collude with each other threaten the innocent? Been there, done that. This power will let them terrorize way more good people and ruin more lives than they will effectively stop the few bad apples and save lives.

      The “3 strikes you’re out law” was supposed to be a serious deterrent to repeat crime. That didn’t work either.

  • SportGuy

    Whether someone chooses not to practice safe sex is there business, however, people should always tell a sexual partner their status. Even if you use condoms, some people still don’t want to risk it. Just be honest people, how hard is that.

  • nature boy

    @topshelf: unless you are going to do a cheek swab in the bedroom, it really doesn’t matter what the person says, that’s the bottom line. safe is safe, unsafe is unsafe and you are taking a risk despite whether the person believes their status to be one thing or the other much less whether they’re consciously lying. I know several people that for whatever reason “knew” they were negative without a doubt until suddenly they had full blow AIDS. They were lying to themselves and also just dumb but they weren’t criminals setting out to hurt other people intentionally. They were not intentionally exposing people because they actually thought they were negative for one reason or another but that was the end result. Criminalizing HIV transmission might work in a perfect world but we live in a far from perfect world, and it’s a very slippery slope.

  • jason smeds

    What a lot of modern gay men forget is that, when the anti-homosexual laws were formulated centuries ago, there was no such thing as a gay identity. These anti-homosexual laws were thus NOT designed to prevent gay-identifying men from having sex with each other. They were designed to prevent all men – including what we today call “straight men” – from being tempted into having sex with other men.

    There has always been a fear that men who usually have sex with women could be seduced into having sex with other men. This fear is the basis for the anti-homosexual laws.

    The fear of a man turning away from women and directing his erotic affections to other men is the basis for much of the legal and social homophobia that exists out there today, and which has existed for a long time.

  • Daniel-Reader

    They should publicize all the people he had sex with so others are warned about them – since they may be transmitting all kinds of STIs to others. What moron has consensual sex with a stranger that’s unprotected. You have to be a complete idiot and everyone else should be warned about these idiots. If you suck it or sit on it you take responsibility for it. It’s like a grown woman claiming she didn’t know she’d get pregnant if she had unprotected sex with a guy.

  • Realityis

    For all you guys blaming the victim, you should be 5 times blaming the person who is positive. Sure the victim has responsibilities to be safe, but the Positive guy has an even bigger responsibility because they are the ones who are positive.

    Daniel-Reader says “What moron has consensual sex with a stranger that’s unprotected. You have to be a complete idiot and everyone else should be warned about these idiots.” with complete ease. Well guess what, the positive guy is the idiot you are talking about. So if you are blaming the victim, you are also blaming the positive guy. So why wouldn’t he have the higher burden of responsibility. It’s his or her job to keep “their” disease from spreading. That’s what I do.

    Again, stop the victim-shaming.

    And I still have to disagree with you stasch99, “don’t ask, don’t tell’ is never an answer to this problem. It only makes the problem bigger because now we potentially have more cases of HIV in the world. Something that could have been avoided if the positive guy disclosed the information and let the negative guy make an informed decision.

    My dead partner lied to me and gave me a life sentence of lipodystophy and having to take meds. I will always be an advocate for the victim.

  • topshelf

    @nature boy:

    I am going under the assumption that this man knew he was positive and deliberately mislead his sexual partners by saying he was negative. I do believe that that should be treated as a criminal act. If he didn’t know, then that’s a different story.

  • money718

    Good grief.

Comments are closed.