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U.S. Courts Now Consider Saliva to be a "Deadly Weapon" in HIV Trial

Sunday, August 31, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: saliva, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) An HIV-positive homeless man has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for "harassing a public servant with a deadly weapon" by spitting at a police officer.

According to the prosecutors, police responded to a call that 42-year-old Willie Campbell was passed out in front of a Dallas building in May 2006. Police tried to arrest Campbell for public intoxication, and he became agitated. He allegedly kicked and spat at several police officers, telling them that he had HIV.

None of the police officers contracted HIV. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this should be no surprise: "contact with saliva, tears or sweat has never been shown to result in transmission of HIV."

"There's still an incredible amount of ignorance about HIV and how HIV is or isn't transmitted," said Bebe Anderson, HIV project director for the patient advocacy group Lambda Legal. "It's regrettable."

The saliva of an HIV-positive individual should never be considered a "deadly weapon," Anderson said.

The CDC says that the primary means of HIV transmission are through the exchange of blood or sexual contact with an infected individual. A very small number of cases of infection from severe bites (but not spitting) have been reported.

Because Campbell had prior convictions for resisting arrest, for biting two prison inmates and for a series of other offenses, he was convicted under a habitual offender statute that mandated a minimum 25-year sentence. The inclusion of the deadly weapon charge means that he will not be eligible for parole until at least half his sentence is over.

Campbell denies having resisted arrest or spitting at any police officers, according to his lawyer, Russell Henrichs. Upon his conviction, he began to shout at the police and prosecutors. Calling them liars, he told them to "rot in hell" for "railroading an innocent man."

Sources for this story include: www.nytimes.com.

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