Michigan Man Says Police Illegally Disclosed His HIV Status

Noël Gordon

Corey Rangel, a 29 year-old gay man from Dowagiac, Michigan, has accused the Dowagiac Police Department of revealing his HIV-positive status without his consent, an action expressly forbidden by Michigan state law.

According to ABC 57 News, Rangel’s police encounter began when he was pulled over for having a loud muffler. Rangel, who is on probation and going through the Cass County drug treatment program, was ultimately cited for driving without proof of insurance or his corrective lenses. The situation took a turn for the worse when, later that day, Rangel says he was told he would be taken into police custody and that he would have to turn his cell phone over to local authorities.

“Rangel says at that time his drug court case manager went through his phone and found sexually explicit pictures, knew he was HIV positive and then instructed an officer from the Dowagiac Police Department to call his contacts and alert them to that fact,” CBS 6 News reported.

Steven Greenwald, Director of Dowagiac Public Safety, confirmed to ABC 57 News that Dowagiac police officers called two individuals in the photos, but that officers never revealed Rangel’s HIV status to anyone. Rangel disputes Greenwald's account, but has since been kicked out of his drug treatment program.

If accurate, what happened to Rangel was egregious and nothing short of discrimination. Unfortunately, his situation is not all that uncommon, according to Dr. Trevor Hoppe, a sociologist of sexuality who has studied HIV disclosure laws extensively. Michigan is one of 30 states where people living with HIV can be tried and imprisoned simply because a partner accuses them of hiding their HIV status. Many of these laws are based on outdated information about HIV and run counter to public health.

Join the Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Center for HIV Law & Policy as we raise awareness and work to end bad HIV laws across the nation by using the hashtag #EndBadHIVLaws.

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