A Growing Trend: HIV Criminalization

Criminalizing the Transmission of HIV


The HIV/AIDS epidemic is incredibly prominent in society, and has become so stigmatized that some states have made the transmission of HIV/AIDS to another person a crime.  These states argue the known transmission of the virus to a person who has not given consent should be prosecuted as assault with a deadly fluid.

While many criminalization laws in the United States have passed state legislatures that essentially mandate that everyone who is positive know their status, and inform their partners. At the same time 1 in 5 HIV positive people don’t know their status. These laws target the LGBTQ community and perpetuate legalized stigma towards those who have HIV/AIDS. The states that implement these laws do not concern themselves with the burden they are putting on the individual. With state funds toward Planned Parenthood and other testing facilities being cut, how can one possibly follow these laws?

Criminalization laws regarding the transmission of the virus are ineffective. The Federal government is right to pressure states who enacted HIV criminal laws to repeal them and to address HIV criminalization in broader terms. Many critics of the federal government’s position have argued that the President hasn’t displayed adequate leadership in the struggle against the HIV/AIDS epidemic, leaving the burden on the states. I reject this argument; the President has increased spending for HIV/AIDS prevention and care, and has stood against stigma surrounding the virus and the LGBTQ community.  That’s the real way to fight HIV/AIDS, to find and implement new treatments and eventually, to find a cure.

– Gabriel Mendez


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