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HIV Criminalization Laws

HIV criminalization laws criminalize the transmission of, or perceived exposure to, HIV and other infectious diseases. The laws create a strong disincentive for being tested for HIV, and result in adverse public health outcomes. Some laws also criminalize behaviors, such as spitting, that have no risk of HIV transmission.

MAP relies on the research conducted by the Center for HIV Law and Policy for this map and the statutes found below.
United States Map
Washington New York U.S. Virgin Islands Puerto Rico Guam Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands American Samoa New Hampshire Vermont Virginia Pennsylvania New York Maine West Virginia Ohio Kentucky Indiana Michigan Illinois Wisconsin North Carolina South Carolina Tennessee Georgia Florida Mississippi Missouri Arkansas Louisiana Iowa Minnesota Oklahoma Kansas Nebraska South Dakota North Dakota Texas 33 Colorado Wyoming Montana Idaho Arizona Utah Nevada Oregon California Hawaii Alaska Massachusetts Rhode Island Connecticut New Jersey Delaware Maryland Washington D.C. New Hampshire Vermont
  • State has HIV criminalization law and either HIV-specific sentencing enhancements or may require sex offender registration (or both) (9 states, 0 territories)
  • State has HIV criminalization law (20 states, 1 territory)
  • State has no HIV criminalization law, but does have HIV-specific sentencing enhancements for sex-related convictions (5 states, 1 territory)
  • No HIV-specific law (16 states, 3 territories + D.C.)
  • State has general STI/communicable disease law, which could be used to prosecute people living with HIV (9 states, 0 territories)
  • State's HIV criminalization law may require sex offender registration (6 states, 0 territories)
The extent to which states or individual prosecutors actively prosecute cases under these statutes varies greatly, as do the penalties if convicted. A number of criminal laws on sexually transmitted infections explicitly include HIV, whereas others contain broad definitions that could encompass HIV. It is important to note that while several states have no known HIV-specific or communicable disease statutes, there are also no legal frameworks in place to prevent prosecutions under general criminal codes in these states.

For more information, contact The Center for HIV Law and Policy.

If you or someone you know is currently being charged with an HIV-related offense, please contact the Legal Help Desk at Lambda Legal by calling (866) 542-8336 or through this form.

Recommended citation:
Movement Advancement Project. "Equality Maps: HIV Criminalization Laws." http://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/hiv_criminalization_laws (date of access).

Percent of Adult LGBT Population Covered by Laws

*Note: These percentages reflect estimates of the LGBT adult population living in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Estimates of the LGBT adult population in the five inhabited U.S. territories are not available, and so cannot be reflected here.

20%

20 % of the LGBT population lives in a state with an HIV criminalization law and either HIV-specific sentencing enhancements or may require sex offender registration (or both)

32%

32 % of the LGBT population lives in a state with an HIV criminalization law

21%

21 % of the LGBT population lives in a state with no HIV criminalization law but does have HIV-specific sentencing enhancements for sex-related convictions

27%

27 % of the LGBT population lives in a state with no HIV-specific laws

Key
  • State does not have this law State has HIV criminalization law or policy
State HIV criminalization law and sentencing enhancements or sex offender registration (or both) HIV criminalization law only No HIV criminalization law but does have HIV-specific sentencing enhancements No-HIV specific law
  Citations
Alabama State does not have this law
Alaska State does not have this law
American Samoa State does not have this law
Arizona State does not have this law
Arkansas State does not have this law
California State does not have this law
Colorado State does not have this law
Connecticut State does not have this law
Delaware State does not have this law
District of Columbia State does not have this law
Florida State does not have this law
Georgia State does not have this law
Guam State does not have this law
Hawaii State does not have this law
Idaho State does not have this law
Illinois State does not have this law
Indiana State does not have this law
Iowa State does not have this law
Kansas State does not have this law
Kentucky State does not have this law
Louisiana State does not have this law
Maine State does not have this law
Maryland State does not have this law
Massachusetts State does not have this law
Michigan State does not have this law
Minnesota State does not have this law
Mississippi State does not have this law
Missouri State does not have this law
Montana State does not have this law
Nebraska State does not have this law
Nevada State does not have this law
New Hampshire State does not have this law
New Jersey State does not have this law
New Mexico State does not have this law
New York State does not have this law
North Carolina State does not have this law
North Dakota State does not have this law
Northern Mariana Islands State does not have this law
Ohio State does not have this law
Oklahoma State does not have this law
Oregon State does not have this law
Pennsylvania State does not have this law
Puerto Rico State does not have this law
Rhode Island State does not have this law
South Carolina State does not have this law
South Dakota State does not have this law
Tennessee State does not have this law
Texas State does not have this law
U.S. Virgin Islands State does not have this law
Utah State does not have this law
Vermont State does not have this law
Virginia State does not have this law
Washington State does not have this law
West Virginia State does not have this law
Wisconsin State does not have this law
Wyoming State does not have this law
Totals 9 states, 0 territories 20 states, 1 territory 5 states, 1 territory 16 states, 3 territories + D.C.
Data current as of 12/05/2019
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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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