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The laws “place all of the responsibility on one party: the party that’s HIV-positive,” said Scott Schoettes, a lawyer who supervises HIV litigation for Lambda Legal, a national gay-rights advocacy group.“And they lull people who are not HIV-positive — or at least think they are not HIV-positive — into believing that they don’t have to do anything.Last spring, they married at a ceremony in the Bronx.“It took me a long time to propose, because I thought I would die,” he recalled.

More than half approved of the kind of laws that resulted in Rhoades’ sentence.“It’s based in just a lot of fear and misconception.” Being HIV-positive can still carry a powerful stigma. The department has won settlements from state prisons, medical clinics, schools, funeral homes, insurance companies, day care centers and even alcohol rehab centers for discriminating against HIV-positive people.Individuals with HIV may also fear that news of their status will spread to third parties, leading to rejection, embarrassment or ostracism for themselves or even their loved ones.But some health and legal experts say using criminal penalties to curtail the epidemic could backfire and fuel the spread of HIV.According to the CDC, 1.1 million Americans are currently living with HIV, but one-fifth of them don’t know it.

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