Twenty-four US states have HIV-specific criminal laws that require persons living with HIV to disclose their positive serostatus to prospective sex partners. Moreover, lawmakers in US states without these laws regularly propose such legislation. Although the presumptive purpose of the laws 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 effects of the laws, which range from discouraging HIV testing and undermining central HIV prevention messages to fostering increased HIV-related stigma and deterring (rather than promoting) seropositive status disclosure by increasing the potential negative consequences of disclosing one's HIV-positive status. US HIV disclosure laws also take several different forms, which introduces further variability and additional statute-specific concerns. Only one empirical study has directly assessed the effects of US HIV disclosure laws on persons living with HIV. The study was conducted in Michigan, a state with an HIV disclosure law, by the PI of the proposed project. No direct empirical studies have examined the impact of the laws on HIV-negative or serostatus unknown persons at risk for HIV infection. The proposed project will expand our successful preliminary study on HIV disclosure laws. We will survey statewide samples of 400 persons living with HIV and 200 persons at risk for the infection in each of four US states, three with different versions of HIV disclosure laws and one with no law. Results from the study will determine positive and negative effects of the laws on HIV-positive and HIV- negative, at-risk individuals. Comparison of states with differing laws has the further potential to determine which aspects of criminal disclosure laws are useful in terms of promoting the intended outcome (safer sex behavior within sero-discordant couples, or sexual abstinence) and which aspects have unintended negative consequences. 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 gather empirical data on a highly controversial issue--the criminalization of undisclosed exposure to HIV. Results 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.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01MH091875-05
Application #
8606511
Study Section
Behavioral and Social Science Approaches to Preventing HIV/AIDS Study Section (BSPH)
Program Officer
Pequegnat, Willo
Project Start
2010-05-11
Project End
2015-01-31
Budget Start
2014-02-01
Budget End
2015-01-31
Support Year
5
Fiscal Year
2014
Total Cost
$356,419
Indirect Cost
$120,746
Name
Medical College of Wisconsin
Department
Psychiatry
Type
Schools of Medicine
DUNS #
937639060
City
Milwaukee
State
WI
Country
United States
Zip Code
53226
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