Even though the odds of transmitting HIV via saliva are considered to be infinitesimal, a Denver gay man has been been charged with assault with a deadly weapon for spitting on someone.
“We are at the point in the case where it has gone to the deputy district attorney who will handle it and he is currently reviewing it,” [DA spokesperson] Lynn Kimbrough told the Colorado Independent. “The circumstances here are not common… this doesn’t come up very often.” Kimbrough said that off the top of her head, she was unaware of another case where the saliva of an HIV-positive person had been treated as a deadly weapon. “Without knowing a specific case and a specific defendant, I would hesitate to say with certainty.”
According to the police report, Jason Arb, a technician with the Rocky Mountain Offender Monitoring System, arrived at the home of Wiliam O’Kelly to install a monitoring system at O’Kelly’s home for a drunk driving offense. During the visit, O’Kelly objected to the price of the system and told Arb to leave the house. Arb said he would have to report the information to O’Kelly’s probation officer. The two argued and O’Kelly reportedly spit in Arb’s face. Later, upon speaking with O’Kelly’s parole officer, Arb learned O’Kelly was HIV positive, at which point he filed a formal complaint.
A rep from the ACLU LGBT Project says the charge “gives credence to the misperception that HIV can be spread through saliva.”