Dr. William M. Valenti is a New York state-licensed physician in practice in Rochester. He has worked in HIV medicine, research and HIV health policy since 1981. Anne Kelsey is a staff attorney at the Center for HIV Law and Policy, in Brooklyn.
In 1999, Nushawn Williams pleaded guilty to two counts of statutory rape and two counts of reckless endangerment for having sex while HIV positive at the age of 19 and 20 years old. He served the full sentence of 12 years, but days before his scheduled release from prison in 2010 he was served with a petition to continue his imprisonment as a “dangerous sex offender” under New York’s civil commitment law.
Williams’s HIV status was a central part of the civil commitment case, and the finding that he is dangerous was based almost entirely on the fact that he was sexually active while HIV positive. He remains confined under conditions more restrictive than prison, without the benefit of comprehensive health care and with virtually no sexual health literacy training or actual mental health care.
In the last 20 years, HIV care has evolved to include scientific evidence that should be considered in evaluating the next steps for Williams.
EtE also incorporates mental health therapy as central to improving individual health outcomes and the ability of a person living with HIV to better manage HIV stigma, which works against the EtE objectives by perpetuating misinformation, marginalizing people and keeping them away from HIV testing and life-saving medical care.