Sample Expert Statement on HIV Transmission Risk, Center for HIV Law & Policy

CHLP Original Publication | Letters and Other Advocacy Documents

To avoid a court battle, or to win a case once in court, people with HIV may need to introduce evidence or affidavits demonstrating that they pose no significant risk of transmitting HIV to others through casual contact. In these cases, it can be extremely important to have the assistance of a medical or scientific expert, usually an infectious disease physician, to provide testimony or an affidavit about the relative risks of HIV transmission. The goal in these cases is to educate and persuade a potential adversary, or the trier of fact, whether a judge or a jury, that the HIV-positive person poses no threat of transmission through casual contact, or if the context is consensual sex, no significant risk of transmission when, for example, viral load is undetectable and/or a condom is used. In short, the expert provides the back-up for the argument that HIV infection alone is not an appropriate basis for, e.g., changes in child custody orders, criminal convictions, or exclusion from a workplace. This sample expert statement, which describes the various ways in which HIV is and isn't transmitted, may be adapted to meet the needs of specific situations.