HIV Criminal Laws by State

A Quick Reference Guide to the Laws and Statutes Affecting People with HIV

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Despite advances in medical science and our understanding of the HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in the U.S. it's often the case that HIV law and HIV science don't align. Many states have enacted laws, some of which can result in prison sentences of up to 20 years, whether an HIV transmission has occurred or not.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a total of 67 laws in in 32 states were focused on people with HIV as of 2011.

In 24 states, an HIV-infected person was required to disclose their status to their sexual partners. Fourteen states require disclosure of HIV status to needle-sharing partners, and 25 states still criminalize various behaviors that have little to no risk of transmitting HIV. 

Many of the HIV laws currently in place were enacted by legislatures who are simply out of touch with the fast-advancing sciences, failing to grasp—or adamantly refusing to accept—the most basic principles of transmission or risk. In other states, the laws reflect an active bias against women (criminalizing the prostitute, but not the customer), against men (defining exposure as presence of semen), or against prison populations (prosecuting actions that the general public would never be penalized for).

Even in states like Texas, which has no HIV-specific criminal laws, there have been sentences laid against those whose HIV was considered a weapon.

In 2008, an HIV-positive, homeless man was convicted of spitting into the eye of a police officer, an action for which he was handed a 35-year prison sentence—as a result of Texas' habitual offender statute, plus 10 years for aggravated assault with a "deadly" weapon.

Given these types of assertions and convictions, a number of organizations (including the Pennsylvania-

HIV Criminal Laws by State

[Please note that the following guide is meant to provide a brief overview of the HIV-specific laws of each state, and should not be used as a legal reference. The list does not include laws or statutes that pertain to transmission of a communicable disease, which in some states can also be punishable by a fine and/or prison sentence. A complete, updated registry of State HIV Laws is available online from the CDC.]

StateConsidered a crime in persons with known HIV infectionMisdemeanorFelony
AlabamaKnowingly engages in actions that may expose another person to HIV.Class C--
AlaskaExposes a person to the risk or fear of HIV in the course of a felony crime.--May allow for additional sentencing in the event of a felony conviction
ArkansasPotentially exposes another person to HIV through blood or through sex with or without semen present.--Class A
 Fails to disclose his/her HIV status to a doctor or dentist.Class A--
CaliforniaKnowingly donates body fluids, organs, or human tissue.--Punishable by a two-, four-, or six-year sentence
 Fails to disclose their HIV status, with the intent of infecting another person through unprotected sex.--Punishable by a three-, five-, or eight-year sentence
 Engages in prostitution after a previous sex-related offense.--Yes
ColoradoEither engages in prostitution or patronizes a prostitute, with full knowledge of their HIV status.--Class 5/6
FloridaEngages in sexual intercourse without first disclosing their HIV status and receiving informed consent. 3rd degree
 Knowingly donates blood, organs, or human tissue.--3rd degree
GeorgiaEngages in sex without first obtaining informed consent; shares needles; engages in prostitution; or donates body fluid, organs, or human tissue.--Punishable by not more that 10 years
 Commits an assault on a police or corrections officer with the intent of transmitting HIV through blood, saliva, or any other bodily fluid.--Yes
IdahoKnowingly donates body fluid, organs or human tissue.--Yes
IllinoisPotentially exposes another person to HIV through intimate contact; donates body fluids, organs, or human tissue; or participates in non-sterile intravenous drug use.--Class 2 
IndianaKnowingly donates infected blood or semen.--Class C for committing the offense and Class A if transmission occurs
 Commits battery on a police officer, a corrections officer, or any other person with body fluid or body waste.--Class D for committing the offense; Class C if the person was unaware that the body fluid or waste was HIV infected; and Class A if transmission occurs
IowaPotentially exposes another person to HIV through sex; donation of body fluids, organs or human tissue; or participating in shared intravenous drug use.--Class B 
KansasIntentionally intends to infect another person through sex, needle sharing, or donating body fluids, organs, or human tissue.Class A--
KentuckyEngages in prostitution, patronizes a prostitute, or attempts to donate organs or human tissue (but not blood)--Class D
LouisianaPotentially exposes a person to HIV through sex without first obtaining informed consent, or enacting harm by "spitting, biting, stabbing with an AIDS-contaminated object, or throwing of blood or other bodily substances" at another person.--

Punishable by a fine of of not more than $5,000, or a prison term up to 10 years.

If the victim is an acting law enforcement officer, the punishment can be increased.

MarylandIntentionally infects or attempting to infect another person.Punishable by a sentence of not more than three years or a fine of $2,500, or both 
MichiganEngages in penetrative sex (including oral sex) without first obtaining informed consent.--Yes
Mississippi

Knowingly exposes another person or

Exposes a corrections officer, a visitor to a corrections facility, or another prisoner

--Felony
MissouriKnowingly donates blood, organs, or human tissue; or exposing another to HIV through sex without first obtaining informed consent.--Class B felony and Class A if transmission has occurred
MontanaKnowingly exposes another person to HIV through sex.Yes--
NevadaKnowingly engages in conduct that is intended or likely to transmit HIV, or engaging in prostitution after having tested HIV positive.--Class B 
New JerseyCommits sexual penetration without first informed consent.--3rd degree
New YorkEngages in sexual intercourse with another person.Yes--
North CarolinaWillfully transfers body fluids to another person.--Class A sex crime
OhioKnowingly transfers blood to another person for the purpose of a transfusion.--4th degree
OklahomaEngages in prostitution, or knowingly engages in conduct where body fluids can be transferred to another person.--Punishable by a sentence of not more than five years
 Exposes another person (including a married partner) to HIV.--Yes
PennsylvaniaCauses another prisoner in a correctional facility to come into contact with your bodily fluids--2nd degree (or 2nd degree murder of the offending prisoner is on death row or has already been sentenced to life imprisonment)
 Engages in prostitution, procures a prostitute, or promotes a prostitute who is HIV positive.--3rd degree
South CarolinaKnowingly engages in sex with another person without first obtaining informed consent; engages in prostitution; forces a legal spouse to have sex; shares needles; or donates body fluids, organs, or human tissue.--Punishable by a sentence of not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $5,000 (although informed consent may be considered an exemption)
South DakotaEngages in sexual intercourse; donates body fluids, organs, or human tissue; participates in non-sterile intravenous drug use; or intentionally cause another  to come into contact with blood or semen.--Class 3
TennesseeKnowingly engages in "intimate contact" with another person; participates in non-sterile intravenous drug use; or donates body fluids, organs, or human tissue.--Class C
UtahEngages in prostitution or procures a prostitute.--3rd degree
VirginiaWillfully engages in sex (including oral sex) with the intent of infecting another person or donating body fluids, organs, or human tissue--Class 6
 Engages in sex (including oral sex) without first disclosing their HIV status.Class 13rd degree
WashingtonIntend to inflict bodily harm by exposing or transmitting HIV to another person--Class A assault

Sources:

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "State HIV Laws." Atlanta, Georgia; updated July 15, 2013.

The Center for HIV Law and Policy, State and Federal Laws and Prosecutions Updated May 2015 

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