California - 'Outing' of the HIV Status of the actor Charlie Sheen

Last updated on: 17 November 2015
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California

As Edwin Bernard reports...'And so it begins. Sigh. As my esteemed colleagues Scott Burris and Catherine Hanssens note, Mr Sheen is much more likely to be sued under civil law (where the burden of proof is much lower and because he has money) than prosecuted under criminal law. This is because in California unless malicious intent to harm can be proven (which is extremely rare, and even harder to prove), potential or perceived HIV 'exposure' is only a misdemeanour (not a felony) with a maximum of six months in prison. However, it appears that Mr Sheen is on successful treatment with an undetectable viral load. This is good both for his health and for his sexual or needle-sharing partners. He cannot 'expose' (or infect) anyone with an undetectable viral load. However, this well-established scientific fact is not a defence under most US HIV-specific laws, which primarily focus on HIV non-disclosure as the 'crime'. (FYI, this will be my only Charlie Sheen-related FB post today. There are already some excellent posts from US colleagues highlighting the many different ways that Mr Sheen's forced HIV outing is problematic and stigmatising for him, his former partners and everyone living with HIV, such as: http://oneangryqueer.blogspot.co.uk/…/hiv-allyship-charlie-… and http://www.hivequal.org/…/fact-checking-the-media-on-charli…)