At tonight's closing ceremony of the HIV is Not a Crime Conference in Grinnell, Iowa, State Senator Matt McCoy used giant bolt cutters to remove the GPS monitoring ankle bracelet that Nick Rhoades has been wearing since he was released from prison. Rhoades was sent to prison for 25 years and added to Iowa's sex offender registry after having sex with a man while wearing a condom — and an undetectable viral load — but failing to disclose that he was HIV-positive. The conviction, a class B felony, was on par with manslaughter and kidnapping in the state. But after Iowa's state legislature became the first of the 36 states with archaic HIV criminal statutes to amend and update it, Rhoades became a free man, as did Donald Bogardus, another gay man who was arrested under the same law. His GPS bracelet was also removed at the ceremony by attorney Dan L. Johnston. (The new Iowa law back dates the sex offender registration rule, removing the men from the list effective July 1.)
At the ceremony, Tami Haught, an organizer with CHAIN and a woman who spearheaded the Iowa campaign to end criminalization, told a crowd of politicians, activists, and media — many of them people with HIV or AIDS, that people living with either condition can breath a sigh of relief in Iowa.
More news from #HIVisNotaCrime coming soon.