Missouri woman charged with exposing people to HIV

After cracking down on prostitution, Missouri police officers in Boone County arrested five people. According to the Southeast Missourian, a 20-year-old woman from Columbia, MO was knowingly exposing people to HIV. Antoinette L. Clark was charged with a misdemeanor prostitution crime, which was then elevated to a felony for knowingly being infected with HIV while performing acts of prostitution.

Last year, the journal AIDS and Behavior examined criminal charges for HIV transmission risk and prostitution in a single jurisdiction. There are possible criminal charges for HIV exposure that can be non-sexual, as well as HIV exposure during prostitution, also known as “aggravated prostitution.” There was a strong link between aggravated prostitution and oral sex, with none alleging actual transmission. In general, the researchers found that the majority of cases where there was a risk of HIV exposure, there was actually a negligible risk.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus.  It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Unlike some other viruses, the human body cannot get rid of HIV. That means that once a person is infected with HIV, they have it for life.  However, HIV does not guarantee that a person will end up with AIDS.

According to the Annual Review of Immunology, in the absence of antiretroviral treatment, HIV-1 establishes a chronic, progressive infection of the human immune system that invariably, over the course of years, leads to its destruction and fatal immunodeficiency.  The CDC states that, annually, there are approximately 50,000 new infections of HIV in the U.S. every year.  Annually, there are an estimated 15,500 deaths from AIDS and over 600,000 deaths recorded to date in the U.S.