HIV deniers play part in Atlanta bareback case
Project Q Atlanta
By Matt Hennie | Jan 16, 2014 | 12:44 PM
It's tough to tell what's worse in a metro Atlanta case criminalizing HIV: a prosecutor comparing the disease to a deadly weapon, the accused man arguing his HIV status can't be proven or HIV deniers spouting their junk science.
The trial of Craig Lamar Davis opened on Monday in a Clayton County court and quickly turned into a three-ring circus. Davis faces two counts of failing to disclose his HIV status before having sex, which is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Gay and HIV activists criticize the law, saying it prevents people from getting tested and further stigmatizes people with the disease. Prosecutors say Davis, 42, had sex with two women, didn't use condoms and exposed them to HIV.
But the case has put people with HIV and the tests used to detect the virus on trial as much as Davis.
A prosecutor overreached in his opening statement, going all weapons of mass destruction.
“When he wakes up in the morning, he has it with him. When he eats lunch, he has it with him. When he goes to bed at night he carries it with him,” Clayton County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Kathryn Powers told a jury Tuesday. “Unlike the deadly weapons you can see - like a gun, knife or a bomb, this deadly weapon is something people have to rely on the defendant to tell them about.”
Davis has done his part, too, casting doubt on whether he's really HIV-positive, despite writing exactly that on jail intake forms after an arrest in 2009. Doctors diagnosed him as HIV-positive in 2005, according to prosecutors.
"Upon what my attorney just said, I would say no," Davis says in response to a reporter's question about whether he's HIV-positive. Watch his cofounding statements in the clip above.
His attorney, John Turner, weighed in. You know, to say that HIV tests are bunk.
Defense attorney John Turner told the jury not to be swayed by the state’s dramatic opening. Stick to the facts and the fact is, Turner said. ”There is no definitive test - scientific or medical for (the detection) of HIV. No such thing.”
So you say? Uh-huh. Where'd the notion come from? You can thank the HIV deniers of Los Angeles-based Office of Medical and Scientific Justice, which has inserted itself into Davis' case. Say what you want about whether bareback sex should result in criminal charges, but to argue that HIV doesn't really exist and tests that prove its existence are junk science is, well, a bit of junk science on its own.
“We expect this case will corroborate what we’ve found in all of our other cases … and that is the testing, diagnosis and treatment of HIV in this country is wildly inaccurate and inflated and incompetent,” Baker said.
The gay panic defense has gone mostly away, only to be replaced with an equally offensive HIV deniers defense. Oh sweet progress.
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