Joshua Waldon Weaver
RALEIGH — A gay disc jockey in Raleigh originally convicted of violating HIV infection regulations in August has been placed on house arrest after admitting he broke probation orders in early October.
On Sept. 6, Q-Notes reported that Joshua Waldon Weaver, 23, who works in clubs in Raleigh and Wilmington, pleaded guilty to charges that he failed to disclose his HIV-positive status and engaged in unprotected sex with three people. Weaver was given a suspended jail sentence and placed on probation. The terms of his probation ordered Weaver to use protection when engaging in sexual activity.
Last month Weaver was arrested after Wake County Public Health officials contacted his probation officer with information that he had possibly violated court orders by having sex without a condom. Assistant District Attorney Boz Zellinger told Raleigh’s News & Observer that health officials became aware of the DJ’s violation after he contracted another sexually transmitted disease that could have been prevented by the use of a condom.
Weaver admitted to the violation in court on Oct. 21 and could have faced up to 40 days in jail. District Court Judge Jacqueline Brewer instead sentenced him to six months of electronically-monitored house arrest. He will not be allowed to leave his father’s house except for probation-approved employment. Brewer also ordered Weaver to undergo a psychological evaluation.
If Weaver breaks his probation again, he will face up to 25 days in jail and prosecutors will ask for a two-year quarantine in a state prison hospital.
See the editorial: “Raleigh HIV case warrants news coverage”
“His behavior hasn’t changed,” Zellinger told the Raleigh newspaper after the hearing. “We’re trying to address the callousness his actions have demonstrated.”
Zellinger added, “It’s not a witch hunt. It’s a desire to change his behavior to benefit the community.”
Weaver’s attorney, Evonne Hopkins, who declined to speak with Q-Notes for our original Sept. 6 story, told The News & Observer she’s “confident we will not be back here.”
“Josh is very sorry we’re back in court,” she said.
By Oct. 24 — Q-Notes’ deadline for the Nov. 1 print issue — the story had become a hot conversation topic on a number of gay-focused websites and blogs.
“I’m upset … [t]hat Q-Notes (Charlotte’s gay newspaper) published his photo,” UNC-Chapel Hill alum and health educator, Trevor Hoppe wrote on his blog. “You should know better! I’m so fucking disappointed about this decision. It’s no different that newspapers in the 1950s posting photos of gay men arrested for having sex.”
Opposing the criticisms over news coverage of Weaver’s legal troubles, others said he should be held responsible for his behavior.
“I don’t care what anyone says, if you spread HIV without informing your partner you have committed murder,” a reader commented at Queerty.com. “It will be a slow death, but eventually the HIV will convert and AIDS will take it’s toll. Yes there are drugs that can prolong life, but cure???? No. Josh should be punished to the FULL extent of the law. I find his behaviour disturbing and disgusting!”
Others criticized laws penalizing HIV-positive individuals. “Charging, fining, jailing people for this behaviour also has the consequence of discouraging others from being tested for HIV,” read a comment also on Queerty.com. “Since the crime is ‘knowingly’ passing on HIV, you cannot be charged unless you are aware of your condition and you won’t be aware of your condition unless you are tested. The road to hell is always paved with the very best of intentions.”
On gay blog JoeMyGod a reader wrote, “In effect, the court has turned this from a crime of disclosure to a punishment of behavior. Even if he has sex with someone who knows his status and REQUESTS unprotected sex. Yes, disclosure is a must, but after you share pertinent information it’s up to the individual to decide. Courts will allow people to eat unhealthy foods, drive dangerous cars, smoke and chew tobacco, but not make their own choices regarding sexual health?”
North Carolina Administrative Code 10-41 and North Carolina General Statute 130A-144(f) address control measures regarding the spread of HIV and require those with communicable diseases — including other sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis and tuberculosis — to comply with measures intended to curb their proliferation.
Patient privacy laws have prevented the Wake County Public Health Department from discussing or disclosing the medical specifics of Weaver’s case.
Weaver is only the second Wake County resident in 15 years to be sentenced for failing to follow laws governing the transmission of communicable diseases, according to The News & Observer. In 2007, only 16 people statewide were convicted of violating the communicable disease law. Rather than HIV, many of the instances were related to diseases such as tuberculosis or hepatitis.