California reduces penalty for knowingly exposing someone to HIV

CANGE, HAITI - MARCH 24: Blood tests wait to be inspected at the lab of Zanmi Lasante Hospital March 24, 2005 in Cange, Haiti. Many HIV positive patients come to be hospitalized here, but the majority of HIV infected people will stay at home in their final stage of life and will die there as most hospitals in the country can not take them. (Photo by Shaul Schwarz/Getty Images)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CBS/AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation that reduces the penalty for intentionally exposing some to HIV in California.

The legislation signed Friday is part of an attempt by Democratic lawmakers to reverse the tough policies enacted during the AIDS scare of the 1980s and ’90s.

Under those policies, intentionally exposing someone to HIV was a felony. SB239 reduces the crime to a misdemeanor, treating HIV like other communicable diseases.

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Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco says the harsher penalties discouraged people from getting tested for HIV and stigmatized those who have it.

Critics say the bill would endanger people.

Lawmakers last year approved legislation allowing people with HIV to receive transplants from HIV-positive donors, reversing a ban imposed amid widespread fear about the disease.

The bill was among several pieces of legislation Gov. Brown signed into law on Friday. Brown also vetoed several bills, including ones on cannabis edibles and a smoking ban on state beaches and parks, CBS Sacramento reports.
© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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