Michael Johnson

The Convoluted, Contorted Saga of HIV Criminalization Continues

     Unless you’ve been “livin’” under some rock, you’d know that the criminalization of HIV has been one very “hot potato” of a topic of late—largely due to the controversial sentencing of Michael Johnson, the 23-year-old Black man accused of having sex with more than 30 unsuspecting individuals–potentially exposing them to the disease.  During their investigation, police uncovered videos of Johnson having sex with his alleged victims.

     The former wrestler from Lindenwood University, which is located in St. Charles, Missouri (not that far from Ferguson), was charged with attempting to “recklessly infect another with HIV” and attempting to “recklessly risk infection of another with HIV.”

    So recently, in just two hours, a nearly all-white jury found Johnson guilty on five felony counts–although that jury found that he had infected just one sex partner.  And, there were a series of  problems with the Johnson trial, including, and get this:  only 13 of the 52 folks in Johnson’s initial jury pool asserted that being gay WAS NOT a sin. 

    Methinks that perhaps, just perhaps, the deck was stacked against Johnson from the get-go.  He will spend the next 30 years of his life behind bars.


    With all the ink surrounding and dripping on Johnson, you just very well might not have heard of the Thomas Guerra Case.  Guerra, 30, is a San Diego man who was just sentenced to six months in jail for not disclosing his HIV status.

     According to Poz.com, “Guerra had been charged for violating a California state health code dictating that people with an infectious disease who willingly expose themselves to others are guilty of a misdemeanor.  After a judge (Katherine Lewis) sentenced Thomas Guerra to six months in jail for knowingly spreading HIV, she called the outcome a travesty and said she wished he could be sentenced to more time.  Judge Katherine Lewis called this an oversight in the law, adding that the charge should become a felony.  A future hearing could decide whether Guerra must pay the ‘victim’s’ medical costs.”

     Poz.com continued, “Guerra had pleaded no contest, meaning that the charges against him could be proven but that he didn’t admit guilt.  According to NBC San Diego, at the sentencing hearing Guerra said, ‘I am not a monster.  I would never do something like what I’m accused of’.”

     Stated the Los Angeles Times, “Investigators found text messages and videos in which Guerra laughed about lying to sex partners.  Guerra said that he had been joking.

     “According to court documents, Guerra told a man that he was HIV negative when the two, after meeting in an online dating site, had unprotected sex during a romance that lasted several months in 2013.

     “Deputy City Attorney Jill Cristich said that the man was infected by Guerra: ‘The victim’s life is shortened.  He was deceived’.

     The Los Angeles Times added, “The victim, whose name was not mentioned in court, said that now that he has AIDS, he is taking ‘an outrageous number of medications’.”

     Cristich concluded, “’We hope this tragic case helps to educate people that they have a legal obligation—as well as a moral and ethical obligation—to inform their sex partners of their HIV status’.”

HIV criminalization

2 thoughts on “The Convoluted, Contorted Saga of HIV Criminalization Continues

  1. Slim

    I have been victimized in this way, so I don’t see this as “criminalization” of HIV. The crime is being reckless, careless, and sociopathic — placing one’s individual desire either to NOT know HIV status or to know and to purposely lie to have sex. If you are going to be sexually active, that comes with responsibility. Getting tested, knowing your status, and being honest about it are the basic, decent things we all as human beings should do. None of these things cost. But the costs of failing to do these things are catastrophic for all involved. If someone is positive, he or she should disclose that to partners, particularly if directly asked about status.

    I feel no sympathy for Johnson or anyone else who puts his own selfish interests before those of other people.

    1. Wyatt O'Brian Evans Post author


      First, I’m so sorry about you being victimized in this way. Thanks for your thoughtful and insightful feedback. I wholeheartedly agree that one must be accountable for his or her actions.


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