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Georgia's HIV criminalization laws are heavy-handed and unnecessary, according to activists who addressed a crowd of about 100 at the Phillip Rush Center on Tuesday evening.
Many states, including Georgia, have made it a felony for HIV-positive people to have sex with someone who is HIV-negative without disclosing their status, even if protection, like condoms, is used and even if the disease is not transmitted.
"My Fabulous Disease" blogger Mark King organized the event, which included Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham, AID Atlanta's Craig Washington, Lambda Legal's Greg Nevins, SERO Project Executive Director Sean Strub and Assistant Director Robert Suttle.
"A lot of criminalization is being driven by stigma"
Robert Suttle met the man through mutual friends. There was no romantic interest at first, but on a New Year’s Eve after a night of partying in Louisiana, the two decided to spend the night together.
One thing led to another. Suttle told the man he was HIV positive.
“It made us hesitate because we didn’t have condoms,” Suttle said.
But the two did have sex, and it would change Suttle’s life forever.
'HIV Criminalization: What You Need to Know' tonight at Rush Center
“Now, people have their bat kites and their regular shaped kites,” Dad said to me when I was 10 years old, “but the box kite, Mark, now there is the most aerodynamically sound of them all.”
He demonstrated by making a box kite out of balsa wood and brown paper. We took it to the park on the Air Force base where Dad was stationed, just behind the theater where I saw horror movies whenever I could get Mom to provide the parental guidance suggested.
“But it looks so weird,” I told him about the kite. “It’s just a box, Dad.”
This is directed to HIV negative gay men. Listen carefully. This is your time.
I’ve lived with HIV more than half my life, and people often praise me far more than I deserve, simply for surviving. They use words like brave and courageous.
You know what takes courage? Getting an HIV test every few months. You, waiting nervously while your most personal sexual choices are literally being tested, waiting to find out if you’ve been good — or if you’re going to pay for a single lapse in judgment by testing positive, when the look on the faces of your friends will say you should have known better.