LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - 34-year-old Brice Joseph will be arraigned for the intentional exposure of the AIDS virus after spitting on a police officer while being arrested.
"In this case, in incident to an arrest, he was brought to jail and spit on a police officer," said Calcasieu District Attorney John DeRosier.
DeRosier said that in Joseph's case, while no one unknowingly contracted the virus, the law likens exposure to contact.
"The statute is intentional exposure not intentionally transmitting the disease," DeRosier said.
Intentional exposure to the AIDS virus is an act defined as spitting, biting, stabbing with an aids-contaminated object, or throwing of blood or other bodily substances.
For those convicted, it could mean serious jail time.
"It is a serious felony," said DeRosier. "If you expose a police officer, it carries a $6,000 fine and an 11-year prison sentence."
Carol Giles is the director of client services at the Southwest Louisiana AIDS Council. It's part of her job to inform her clients of their duty and obligation to disclose their HIV status.
"Anyone that's HIV positive has a duty to warn any prospective sexual partners or any prospective drug partners that they would share needles with," Giles said.
She said the law, which attempts to criminalize people for the exposure from spitting like in Joseph's case, is outdated. She said it came about during the time people didn't know about the virus and how it was transmitted.
"Based on the current knowledge of how the HIV virus is transmitted and how people are exposed, there's no danger in spitting on someone, or kissing someone, or even eating or drinking after them," he said. "The virus lives in bloods, sexual fluids and breast milk."
Joseph will be formally arraigned on May 29.