Steven Thrasher in Buzzfeed reports on a young HIV-positive college student in Missouri, Michael Johnson, who went by the name “Tiger Mandingo” and was arrested last October for
“recklessly infecting another with HIV” and four counts of “attempting to recklessly infect another with HIV,” felonies in the state of Missouri.
Johnson has pleaded not guilty and his case won’t be in court until March of 2015. HIV criminalization is at the center of a politically-charged debate; recently, the AMA adopted a resolution “supporting the modernization of HIV related criminal laws.” Thrasher reports that
Johnson has been incarcerated during a hopeful time for people who believe that, as Medical Director of Corrections Medicine for St. Louis County Department of Health Dr. Fred Rottnek wrote to BuzzFeed, “HIV criminalization does not produce positive health outcomes for individuals or populations.” In May, Iowa modified its laws that criminalize transmitting HIV. This June, the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association adopted a resolution against such laws. Also in June, the Iowa Supreme Court threw out the conviction and lifetime sex-offender status of Nick Rhoades, the subject of a 2013 ProPublica investigation co-published with BuzzFeed.
But Johnson is unlikely to benefit from any of this. He won’t be the poster child for repealing HIV laws. No national groups have taken up his cause. Akil Patterson, the sports advocate, is politically connected in African-American, LGBT, and sports circles. But he said he “can’t get anyone to touch this case with a fucking 10-foot pole.”
And, unlike Rhoades, Johnson is not being charged with having had sex with a condom, nor does he have the benefit (as the judge sentencing Rhoades put it) to not “look like our usual criminals.”
Read the full article, “How College Wrestling Star “Tiger Mandingo” Became An HIV Scapegoat,” here.