California lawmakers gave a green light Monday to a bill that would reduce penalties for knowingly exposing someone to HIV without telling them, claiming the current felony charge for the crime is discriminatory.
The bill, SB 239, will now head to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature or veto, the Los Angeles Times reported.
State Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat who introduced the bill, said the current law discriminates against people with HIV because people who expose others with different viruses get only a misdemeanor rather than a felony.
“Right now HIV is singled out for uniquely harsh treatment as a felony,” Wiener said during the floor debate, according to the L.A. Times. He added that modern drugs allow someone with HIV to be noninfectious to others, while the felony charge may discourage some from getting tested.
“These laws do not prevent HIV infections. All they do is stigmatize people living with HIV and reduce access to testing and care.”