US: California Lowers the Penalty for Knowingly Exposing Someone to HIV

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill Friday that would make knowingly exposing someone to HIV a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

The law, SB 239, removes penalties that previously required someone convicted of the crime — defined as exposing someone to HIV through unprotected sexual activity if the infected person knew of their HIV-positive status at the time — to serve 3, 5 or 8 years in state prison, Fox affiliate KMPH reported.

The new law will also include those who donate blood without disclosing their HIV status to the blood bank, the LA Times noted.

Co-authors of the bill Sen. Scott Wiener and Assemblyman Todd Gloria said that people with HIV now live longer lives and can have very low chances of transmitting the virus because of advances in medicine, the Times reported.

"Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals," Wiener said in a statement to the Times, adding that under current law, some people might avoid being tested for HIV in order to avoid prosecution.

HIV is the only communicable disease whose exposure is considered a felony under current California law, according to the report. Read more via Time