-By Warner Todd Huston
The Baltimore Sun published a story this month revealing sympathy for a man being prosecuted for having passed the AIDS virus to a 13-year-old Maryland boy. Not sympathy for having done this horrid deed, of course, but sympathy for, in the Sun’s opinion, his being “over charged” by state prosecutors for the separate crime of knowingly passing the virus to the child, a felony under state law.
The 36-year-old man, one Steven Douglas Podles, contacted the boy through a gay hook-up phone ap called “Grindr.” He blithely claimed that all users of the ap are “supposed” to be 18, so he assumed the boy was of age. Regardless the state has charged him with a series of sex crimes including a little-used law that criminalizes the passing of the AIDS virus to unaware victims.
33 states, including Maryland, have made transmission of the HIV virus a crime and some defendants have been charged with attempted murder based on such statutes.
The Sun’s piece is mostly an excoriation of the whole idea of making it a crime to purposefully pass the HIV virus to unsuspecting partners.
The long story reveals several gay activists that claim that criminalizing the purposeful passing of the virus to others is nothing else but the “stigmatization” of those with HIV. The piece also explains that such laws tend to have the unforeseen consequence of preventing testing for HIV among those most susceptible to the disease.
Criminalizing HIV passage, the Sun reports, makes gays “fearful of getting tested.” Indeed, the Sun quotes one activist that says such laws “make the epidemic worse.”
This idea is, of course, of a piece with the Obama administration’s efforts to eliminate state laws that criminalize transmission of the virus. In 2010, Obama issued the “National HIV/AIDS Strategy” that included the goal of encouraging an end to such laws.
More recently, in the administration’s 2011-2012 updated strategy, the commitment to characterize such laws as “discrimination” was re-affirmed.
Remember, this Maryland story is of a man revealed to be a predator of a 13-year-old boy, raped him and gave him the possible death sentence of the AIDS virus. This is the man the Sun is attempting to aid by advocating for an end to one of the charges the state is leveling against him during his prosecution.