In Missouri, a former college student has been found guilty of exposing one of his sex partners to HIV as well as attempting to expose four others to the virus.
Prosecutors said ex-Lindenwood University student Michael Johnson, 23, allegedly continued to hook up with various men, and even reportedly lied to them when asked about his HIV status. Felony charges state that Johnsonwho won the 2012 National Junior College championship before transferring to Lindenwoodinfected two men and endangered four others before his October 2013 arrest.
Johnson was found not guilty on a sixth charge of exposing another man to the virus.
Medical experts as well as several HIV and LGBT groups condemned the development. The Missouri HIV Criminalization Task Force issued a statement saying, in part, "Today is not a victory for Missouri. It is not a victory for our citizens or our communities. It is not a victory for public health policy or for Missourians who potentially are living with HIV but have yet to seek testing or treatment.
"This case highlights the need for improved sex education as well as access to that education, increased testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and the availability of prevention tools."
Catherine Hanssens, executive director of The Center for HIV Law and Policy, said in a separate statement, "Michael Johnson's conviction for exposing one of his sex partners to HIV and 'attempting to expose' four others to the virus reinforces both an 'ignorance is bliss' approach to sexual health and personal responsibility, and public hysteria and misconceptions about HIV."
Dr. Wendy Armstrongprofessor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, vice chair of the HIV Medical Association and a member of CHLP's Positive Justice Projectsaid, "Failure to disclose, or outright lies, about one's sexually transmitted infections or sexual past is extremely common. ... But the hang-them-high response seems to be reserved for discoveries of HIV non-disclosure and is based on misguided and outdated information about HIV and treatment."
Isaiah Wilson, external affairs manager for the National Black Justice Coalition, said, "Michael testified that he did in fact disclose to his partners, but under this law it doesn't matter because the word of his accusers supersedes his. This is beyond offensive and all people of good will should be able to recognize the alarming problem with the enforcement of these discriminatory laws that disproportionately impact Black men."
The St. Charles County jury suggested a 30-year prison term for Johnson, whose sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 13.
See May 15 ress release at the link: