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Dueling Rulings on FL HIV-Disclosure Law

Stethoscope and gavel against a white backdrop.
Wikimedia Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

In Florida and many other states, you are required by law to tell your partner you have a sexually transmitted disease before having intercourse. But as the Miami Herald reports, that law has been interpreted differently by Florida appellate courts (paywall alert). 

In 2010, a Tampa appeals court threw out a case involving two women on the basis that intercourse is defined as “the penetration of the female sex organ with the male sex organ.” Last month,  the Third District Court of Appeal upheld the law in a case involving two men and a forged lab report that said one of the men was HIV-negative. In the spring, another court in Daytona Beach interpreted sexual intercourse to mean "vaginal, anal and oral intercourse," no matter the gender of the people involved.

Florida’s disclosure law makes it a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, for someone  to have sex with someone else without informing them of their HIV-positive status.

As the Herald reports, the conflicting rulings among appeals courts could send the issue to the Florida Supreme Court. While gay-rights activists are in favor of rulings for equal status for same-sex relations, they also criticize the disclosure law for its stigmatization of HIV. 

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.