This article describes the origins of the modern HIV epidemic and the stages of HIV infection, before moving into a more specific exploration of Ohio’s HIV criminalization statutes. The author discusses several Ohio cases prosecuted under these statutes, as well as the penalties that convicted defendants may face. The author asserts that while these laws “may have served a vital function at the time [they were] enacted,” it is time to reexamine these statutes and “revise where appropriate.” He further argues that the laws stand in direct opposition to longstanding public health measures, since they may discourage testing and place the burden of prevention solely on people living with HIV. The author suggests a statutory scheme that criminalizes non-disease-specific offenses with graduated penalties based on the severity of the conduct. He also recommends that civil litigation remain available as an alternate recourse to criminal prosecution for HIV-related offenses.
CHLP fights stigma and discrimination at the intersection of HIV, race, health status, disability, class, sexuality and gender identity and expression, with a focus on criminal and public health systems. As part of this work, we support movement building that amplifies the power of individuals and communities to mobilize for change rooted in racial, gender and economic justice. We do this through legal advocacy, high-impact policy initiatives, and creation of cross-issue partnerships, networks, and resources.