A majority of US states have HIV-specific criminal laws that require persons living with HIV (PLWH) to disclose their positive serostatus to prospective sex partners. Although the laws'presumptive purpose is to increase serostatus disclosure to sexual partners (with the assumption that informed partners will abstain or practice safer sex), little is known about their effectiveness. Even less is known about the potential negative impact of these laws, which could range from deterring persons at elevated risk for HIV infection from being tested, to deterring PLWH from disclosing their seropositive status and utilizing HIV-related health care services. The National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States asks state lawmakers to consider reviewing these laws to ensure that they are consistent with public health approaches to preventing and treating HIV infection. We are currently conducting the first multi-state study in the nation to directly examine the impact of criminal HIV exposure laws on persons living with and at risk for HIV infection (R01-MH091875). However, our study surveys and materials are in English and prevent us from examining the impact of these laws on a very important US subpopulation, Spanish-speaking Latino immigrants for whom a survey in English serves as a barrier to participation. We propose to partner with the Latino Commission on AIDS and the networks of community service organizations that are carrying out the aims of the parent grant to translate and administer the parent study's cross sectional survey in Spanish to statewide samples of HIV-positive and at risk Spanish-speaking Latino immigrants. We will augment the study survey in the supplemental project by including measures to assess participants'fear of deportation and their perceptions of US immigration law as it applies to HIV/AIDS. The supplemental study will thus expand the parent study, both by including an important subpopulation in our efforts to understand the impact of HIV exposure laws, and by examining, within this population, the related impact of deportation concern and perceived immigration law on study outcomes. The results of the study will inform HIV-related legislation, which is often drafted without the benefit of scientific evidence. Results will also inform policy discussions on the role of the criminal law in disease containment efforts.

Public Health Relevance

We will explore the impact of US criminal HIV exposure laws on the HIV-prevention behaviors of Spanish speaking Latino immigrants--a vulnerable subpopulation not included in the English language parent study. Additionally, we will explore the impact of perceived immigration law on the same HIV-related behaviors. The results of the supplement will provide information on two potential structural-level threats to the success of our national HIV prevention strategy.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Behavioral and Social Science Approaches to Preventing HIV/AIDS Study Section (BSPH)
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Pequegnat, Willo
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Medical College of Wisconsin
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Galletly, C; Lazzarini, Z; Sanders, C et al. (2014) Criminal HIV exposure laws: moving forward. AIDS Behav 18:1011-3
Galletly, Carol L; Lazzarini, Zita (2013) Charges for criminal exposure to HIV and aggravated prostitution filed in the Nashville, Tennessee Prosecutorial Region 2000-2010. AIDS Behav 17:2624-36