Studies Show HIV Criminalization Laws Disproportionately Punish People of Color

For National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, February 7, BETA Blog explores the controversy surrounding HIV criminalization laws.

A recent BETA Blog article by Emily Newman entitled, “HIV Criminalization Laws Disproportionately Punish People of Color” catalogs the many problems with HIV criminalization laws and their myriad negative consequences for people of color and all people living with HIV. While it is common knowledge that people with HIV can be prosecuted under outdated criminal laws, what many do not realize, the article suggests, is that racial bias may be adding another level of unfairness to the enforcement of these laws where people of color are concerned. Newman references a study in AIDS and Behavior that examined sentencing and found that sentences for black individuals were harsher than those for white individuals. The author goes on to explain how these criminal laws may discourage testing since those who are ignorant of their HIV status cannot be prosecuted under these laws. What's more, and perhaps more important, the article concludes by asserting that the laws do not appear to reduce rates of transmission. In fact, states that have harsher HIV criminal laws typically also have higher transmission rates. 

Link to original article is below.