THE IMPACT OF CRIMINAL LAWS ON HIV RISK BEHAVIOR - Mitch Perry

03/29/04

Last week Tampa Political Activist Mauricio Rosas was arrested on charges of prostitution and criminal transmission of HIV. Rosas - perhaps best known in activist circles for being 1 of 4 people who were arrested for protesting at a George W. Bush rally in Tampa 3 years ago, was released on $2,500 bail after his arrest last Tuesday.

According to Tampa Police, Rosas was advertising himself on several different web sites when he was identified by somebody who recognized him - and alerted Police that Rosas is HIV positive.......Tampa Police arrested him after money changed hands, but no sexual activity had taken place.....It is not known if Rosas has had sex with anybody without informing them of his status.

The Prostitution charge is a misdemeanor -but the criminal transmission of HIV in Florida is subject to as much as 5 years in prison.

Zita Lazzarini is a public health lawyer and the director of the program in Medical Humanities, Health Law and Ethics at the University of Connecticut Health Center.

She says about 27 states have laws on the books regarding the exposure or transmission of HIV.....She says there have been 30 such prosecutions of the law in Florida (roll tape#1 o.q."or so")

Florida's law - like most of the statutes across the country, do no NOT require infection, but simply transmission of the virus.

Professor Lazzarini says that in her research, for the years 1986 thru 2001, she was able to identify 142 people who have been convicted on an HIV-related charge and were sentenced to a term of imprisonment or probation ....Most of those were when the HIV charge was combined with sexual assault...but one of them was for spitting.

2 of those sentences were for 20 years or life.

The average sentence was 14.3 years.

Public Health Attorney and professor Zita Lazzarrini says that a look at the statistical data indicates that one of the crimes that Mauricio Rosas has been charged with - is rarely applied (roll tape#2 o.q."routine use of the law")

And University of Connecticut Professor Zita Lazzarrini says that because Criminal transmission of HIV is so rarely prosecuted that other factors - such as "Community Standards" carry great significance (roll tape#3 o.q."Criminal law may not be the best thing to use")

OUTRO: Again, Mauricio Rosas is out on bail.....No word on when he will appear in Court.

(roll tape#2 o.q. "

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