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Last spring, they married at a ceremony in the Bronx.“It took me a long time to propose, because I thought I would die,” he recalled.
And if we do have a kid, then I might die and leave my kid without a father, like I grew up without a mother.’” The fear is “choking” and “silencing,” he said.People with HIV have even done time for spitting, scratching or biting.According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spitting and scratching cannot transmit HIV, and transmission through biting “is very rare and involves very specific circumstances” — namely, “severe trauma with extensive tissue damage and the presence of blood.” Many law enforcement officials and legislators defend these laws, saying they deter people from spreading the virus and set a standard for disclosure and precautions in an ongoing epidemic.“One thing that makes this case difficult is you don’t look like our usual criminals,” Harris said. But you created a situation that was just as dangerous as anyone who did that.” The judge meted out Rhoades’ sentence: 25 years in prison.“Often times for the court it is easy to tell when someone is dangerous. His crime: having sex without first disclosing he had HIV.The national tally is surely higher, because at least 35 states have laws that specifically criminalize exposing another person to HIV. In 60 cases for which extensive documentation could be obtained, Pro Publica found just four involving complainants who actually became infected with HIV.Even in such cases, it can be hard to prove who transmitted the virus without genetic tests matching the accused’s HIV strain to their accuser’s.Lab results and a bottle of pills found in the Rhoades’ refrigerator confirmed the detectives’ suspicions: Nick Rhoades was HIV-positive.Almost a year later, in a Black Hawk County courtroom, Judge Bradley Harris peered down at Rhoades from his bench.Officially, the charge, buried in Chapter 709 of the Iowa code, is “criminal transmission of HIV.” But no transmission had occurred.The man Rhoades had sex with, 22-year-old Adam Plendl, had not contracted the virus.