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Missouri


For information on getting involved in HIV criminalization reform advocacy in Missouri, please email info@seroproject.com.


Data from the GNP+ Global Criminalisation Scan

Number of prosecutions27
Number of convictions10
Applicable laws

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 191.677

It is unlawful for a person knowingly infected with HIV to be (or attempt to be) a donor of blood, blood products, organs, sperm or tissue, except as deemed necessary for medical research. It is also unlawful for a person knowingly infected with HIV to act in a reckless manner by exposing another person to HIV without the knowledge and consent of that person, in any of the following manners: (1) through contact with blood, semen or vaginal secretions during oral, anal or vaginal sex, (2) by sharing needles, or (3) by biting another person or purposely doing anything else which causes the HIV infected person's semen, vaginal secretions, or blood to come into contact with the mucous membranes or nonintact skin of another person. The use of a condom is not a defense. A violation of these provisions is a class B felony, unless the victim contracts HIV from the contact, in which case it is a class A felony.

“Recklessness” includes (1) knowledge of infection when other person does not know or does not consent; (2) evidence of infection with primary and secondary syphilis, gonorrhea or Chlamydia; or (3) another person provides evidence of sexual contact with the HIV infected person after a diagnosis of HIV infection.

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 565.085

An offender or prisoner commits the crime of endangering a corrections employee, a visitor to a correctional facility, or another offender or prisoner if she/he attempts to cause or knowingly causes such person to come into contact with blood, seminal fluid, urine, feces, or saliva. It is a Class C felony if the offender has HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C, or exposes another to the HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C.

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 567.020

Performing an act of prostitution, which is normally a class B misdemeanor, becomes a class B felony if the prostitute knew prior to performing the act of prostitution that he or she was infected with HIV. The use of a condom is not a defense.

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 558.011

Prison sentences

For a Class A felony, a term of imprisonment not less than ten years and not more than thirty years.

For a Class B felony, a term of imprisonment not less than five years and not more than fifteen years.

For a Class C felony, a term of imprisonment of no more than seven years.

Discussion

Oral, as well as anal and vaginal sex is included in the offence, and even having oral sex with a condom, in the absence of disclosure and “consent” from the HIV-negative partner, is against the law here. Even more worryingly, a third party can institute a complaint if they can provide “evidence” that an HIV-positive person has had unprotected sex without disclosure.

One notable aspect of Missouri’s law is that one can be prosecuted under this statute if, in addition to HIV, the defendant tests positive for syphilis, gonorrhoea, or chlamydia. Positive test results for STIs are used by Missouri officials to show that HIV-positive persons are engaging in unprotected sex. This statute allows prosecutors to more easily prosecute HIV-positive persons charged with failing to tell a sexual partner about their HIV status because, as opposed to relying on facts and witness testimony, prosecutors can rely on the defendant’s medical records to prove that she/he was “recklessly” having unprotected sex and placing others at risk. This segment of the statute all but eliminates the need for complainant testimony and other evidence to prove whether or not the defendant engaged in undisclosed, “reckless” sex. This unjustly prosecutes persons based on their medical history as opposed to the facts of a case.

The Missouri statute also provides that if a complainant tests positive for HIV and one of her/his former sexual partners is found to be HIV-positive, this would be enough to bring a charge of HIV exposure. Under the statute the prosecution would have to prove a sexual relationship existed between the complainant and HIV-positive defendant and that the HIV-positive defendant knew of her/his HIV-positive status at the time of the sexual activity. This statute enables prosecutions of persons where, without direct evidence as to the actual source of the infection, the defendant can face up to thirty years imprisonment for transmitting HIV.

Excerpted from: Positive Justice Project. Ending & Defending Against HIV Criminalization, A  Manual For Advocates: Vol 1 States and Federal Laws and Prosecutions. Center for HIV Law and Policy, New York. Fall 2010 (with additional laws and cases through December 2011).

Exact number of prosecutions and convictions are not currently available. However, prior to October 2008, we had tallied 18 prosecutions and 8 convictions. In the period November 2010 to February 2012, there were media reports (in Positive Justice Project. Prosecutions and Arrests for HIV Exposure in the United States, 2008–2012. Center for HIV Law and Policy, 2012) of nine further cases involving sex (6) biting (2) and spitting (1). Outcomes are only known in two cases where the defendants pleaded guilty and received lengthy custodial sentences. Given the overly-draconian nature of Missouri's HIV-related statutes, it is likely that these numbers do not represent the actual numbers of prosecutions or convictions.

Since there are an estimated 10,862 people living with (diagnosed) HIV in Missouri (Source: Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services), prosecutions per capita of PLHIV are at the very minimum an estimated 2.48 per 1000.

Further reading

Positive Justice Project. Ending & Defending Against HIV Criminalization, A  Manual For Advocates: Vol 1 States and Federal Laws and Prosecutions. Center for HIV Law and Policy, New York. Fall 2010 (with additional laws and cases through December 2011).

Recent cases can be found at: Positive Justice Project. Prosecutions and Arrests for HIV Exposure in the United States, 2008–2012. Center for HIV Law and Policy, 2012.

Further cases and news can be found at: http://www.hivjustice.net/country/us/mo-missouri/