SALT LAKE CITY -- Prostitutes and those who solicit for sex can be charged with a third-degree felony if law enforcement officials believe the defendants know, or should have known, they are HIV positive.
The difficulty with the current law is that a law enforcement jurisdiction does not know if a person arrested for prostitution was tested for HIV in another jurisdiction, said Layton City Attorney Gary Crane.
Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, is sponsoring Senate Bill 50, which changes wording in the law.
The bill was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standing Committee. It now goes before the Senate for further consideration.
Currently, a person who is convicted of either prostitution or soliciting sex is required to be tested for HIV. If the test comes back positive, the individual is required to attend a hearing with a police officer and an employee from the state Department of Health, where the defendant is informed of the dangers of HIV, Crane said.
But most of the time, the hearings are not held because the defendant cannot be found.
The bill deletes the hearing, but still requires a person convicted of prostitution or soliciting sex to have an HIV test and to be informed of the results.
If the person is arrested again, he or she can be charged with a third-degree felony instead of a class B misdemeanor, Crane said.
Crane said Layton police arrested a man for prostitution in 2010 and "he told the officer he was HIV positive."
Officers investigated and discovered the man had been arrested multiple times in Ogden for prostitution, but had never attended a required hearing for being HIV positive.
"They could never prosecute him for a third-degree felony because he had never attended the hearing," Crane said.
Crane said it is not uncommon for women and men who are prostitutes to travel between cities. Police may not know the person has already tested positive for HIV.