February 13, 2012 I was invited to participate at the "Civil society caucus on HIV criminalisation" in Oslo. This was a pre-meeting to the High Level Policy Consultation on the Science and Law of Criminalisation of HIV Non-disclosure, Exposure and Transmisson 14-15 of February 2012 in Oslo, by UNAIDS. I gave this speech:
I am Louis. I am 40 years old and HIV-positive.
It’s my understanding you represent some of the elite addressing the complexity surrounding HIV criminalization? I’m not a part of that elite.
Instead I’m going to tell you a very personal story witch reflects what’s going on in Norway, today. By doing this I will reveal information witch is not meant for the public, but to me it’s important to let you know.
My story is about how unanswered love turned in to an attempt to force me to give an already broken relationship, a second chance. If not? I would be reported to the police, accused of passing on the HIV-virus. In Norway, like in a lot of countries, this is a criminal act.
I said no, and was reported.
The psychological impact on me was devastating. At the time I saw no other choice than to end my life. Thank God, that didn't happen. I got professional help in time. The fact that the complainant after being with me sexually tested positive, made me feel an endless shame and sorrow.
We both explained to the police about this one occasion of “safer sex” encounter, where the complainant cuts me during oral sex. And of course there was blood. It was an accident none of us saw coming, but I believed back then that this had to be the point of infection? I explained how I had warned the complainant about me being contagious; this was denied by the complainant in the police report.
The allegations and the threats didn't occur until months after the complainant tested positive and had a new partner in life.
Being an open HIV-positive is hard enough. Being accused and a suspect in a police investigation like this, even harder.
People we both love, slowly made their choices and I was left to be alone. It was a fucking hard time!
But it was also the reason that I changed my mind about letting other people inflict such a heavy burden upon my life. I decided to take whatever control I could gain, back. I went public.
Whether that was a wise choice, I can't tell yet? It's too early. What I do know, is that there are so much work to be done. Being able to live with HIV, with the same legal rights to a sexual life as everyone else, will continue for some time. And I hope that my choice of chairing this story in public will help that process.
Today, this case has turned my life upside down once again. Only a few weeks ago I learned from the Prosecutors, that the investigation concluded that I in fact was not the one who infected the complainant. We had different viruses!
To me, at least, it means that everything I had to go thru was based on lies to me, my friends and the police.
So what do the Prosecutors do about this? They recommend prosecuting me, anyway! Because, regardless the fact that I didn't infect the complainant, it's still criminal to put others at risk of an infection even if the other person was already HIV-positive. And this we will probably never know? They have still not reached a final conclusion. At this point I could probably report the complainant to the police my self, putting me at risk of a re-infection?
All in all, it leaves us HIV-positives, with this splended example of how the society best think they can protect them selves against new HIV-infections.
This year, 2012, will be the year where the politicians get the chance to change the law. A commission (where Kim Fangen over there is a member), is given the chance to recommend the politicians to change the future of criminalization of HIV-positives, if they choose too?
I don’t have to explain to you what I wish for?
I didn't know how it was to love someone for real until I was more than 30 years old and I don't want to lose that feeling again just because I got HIV. What I have experienced has frightened me, so I know I have to fight it and I will!