Iowa Court of Appeals denies HIV+ Iowan's appeal

Fri. October 4, 2013 12:41 PM

Des Moines, IA - On September 11, 2009, Iowan Nick Rhoades was sentenced to 25 years in prison and required to register as a sex offender for failing to disclose his HIV+ status to a partner. Mr. Rhoades was convicted of "criminal transmission of HIV" under Iowa law 709c even though his viral load was undetectable, even though he used a condom, and even though no HIV was transmitted. Later that year the court reassessed, suspending his prison sentence and placing him on 5 years probation. Two years later, Lambda Legal filed an application for post-conviction relief on behalf of Mr. Rhoades, arguing that he pled guilty because of ineffective counsel that did not fully understand Iowa law. Today, the court denied his appeal of an adverse decision from the trail court regarding post-convction relief. Unfortunately, Mr. Rhoades will continue to be on supervised probation and listed as a sex offender.

The following is a statement from One Iowa Executive Director Donna Red Wing:


"The unfortunate case of Nick Rhoades is exactly why we must repeal Iowa's 709c law that specifically targets and denigrates Iowans living with HIV and AIDS. Iowa's draconian HIV criminal transmission law is not only retaliatory, it is outdated and needs to be revised. It's time people understand that HIV is not a crime, and Nick Rhoades should not be punished as a result of having HIV. What a shame. We admonish the Iowa Court of Appeals for its ruling that continues to punish Mr. Rhoades. They could have -- and should have -- done better. We look forward to the next steps in our fight for justice for Nick Rhoades and all people living with AIDS and HIV.


"One Iowa will continue to work with our legislators as we urge them to update and reform Iowa's current law. This discriminatory piece of legislation singles out people living with HIV and AIDS for severe criminal penalties and perpetuates harmful stereotypes. What's worse, this law is a public health risk, as it discourages testing and disclosure by punishing those who know their status. We need a law that increases testing and disclosure, and will decrease transmission of HIV and AIDS. We must do better."