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HIV-positive man in Minn. found guilty of assault for not using condom

An HIV-positive 30-year-old resident of Minnesota has been convicted by a jury of attempted first degree assault for allegedly failing to use a condom during sex.

United Press International reports that while the jury believed the man had disclosed his HIV-positive status to his partner, it was obligated to find him guilty of the attempted assault charge. The man’s attorney has said he will challenge the guilty verdict.

“Because he didn’t use any protection, it didn’t matter if he told or not,” [defense attorney Landon] Ascheman said. “Reading the statute exactly as it is, they were told they essentially had to convict him.”

The law has two parts. The first addresses the situation with the HIV-positive man, while the second addresses assaults against police and peace officers.

Subdivision 1.Great bodily harm. Whoever assaults another and inflicts great bodily harm may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 20 years or to payment of a fine of not more than $30,000, or both.

A legitimate series of questions were not addressed by the UPI story. Specifically, there is no indication if the man was on successful anti-retroviral treatment. Successful treatment has been shown to dramatically reduce the transmission of the virus from the infected to uninfected. Additionally, there are questions about consent involved in this case. If a person consents to harmful behavior, can the state come back and charge one of the partners with assault for consensual behavior?

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