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Modernize Unjust HIV Laws

HIV IS NOT A CRIME

In a groundbreaking collaboration, the Equality Ohio Education Fund and the Ohio Health Modernization Movement have unveiled a comprehensive report on the enforcement of HIV criminalization laws across Ohio. Authored by Kate Mozynski Esq. and Delaney Barr Esq., this report presents the first-ever statewide analysis, covering data from all 88 counties over the years 2014-2020.

Released, February 28, 2024

What's in the report?

This report, covering data from 2014-2020 across Ohio’s 88 counties, shines a light on the systemic injustices and biases inherent in the state’s HIV criminalization laws:

Hundreds of people have been prosecuted

  • There were 214 HIV-related
    criminal prosecutions between 2014 and 2020 in Ohio.
  • On average, over 35 people were prosecuted per year for an HIV-related
    criminal allegation.
UNPRODUCTIVE

Nearly two-thirds of prosecutions were for conduct that cannot transmit
HIV.

  • 56% of cases were for throwing bodily fluids (like spit).
  • 8% of cases were for standing around (loitering) or for talking about sex
    work (solicitation).
UNSCIENTIFIC

Prosecutions disproportionately affect Black Ohioans.

  • 36% of people in HIV-related prosecutions were Black compared to about
    13% of the overall population.
  • In Cuyahoga County, over two thirds (68%) of people in HIV-related prosecutions were Black.
UNJUST
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The Williams Institute Report

The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law released a separate report on the legal and legislative history of HIV criminalization in Ohio and key trends in the broad enforcement of the state’s HIV-related criminal laws. While different in scope, their report similarly shows a disproportionate impact of HIV criminalization on women and Black Ohioans and a high concentration of enforcement in Cuyahoga County and other counties.
UNJUST (1)

WHY WE ARE INSPIRED to do this

The impact of Ohio’s unjust HIV Laws reach far beyond their original intention. They have become UNSCIENTIFIC as the Law has failed to catch up with the science. They are UNPRODUCTIVE because they are UNSUPPORTED by science. This has led to UNJUST felony convictions that punish not only the perceived perpetrator, but the community at large.

The good news is we know what needs to be done. Since the HIV pandemic of the ’80s, advances in technology and medicine have changed the nature of HIV transmission and treatment. Laws have not. In fact, the laws do nothing but promote stigma and discourage testing. 

This much is clear: we cannot afford to fail in our mission to modernize Ohio’s HIV Laws.

OUR KEY MISSION

To advocate for the Modernization of Ohio’s unjust HIV Laws. The laws are:

Unjust

In Ohio, a person living with HIV can go to prison for 8 years for not disclosing their status before engaging in sexual conduct, even when they did not intend to harm anyone and no harm resulted.

Unscientific

Ohio’s laws punish behavior that poses no or negligible risk of HIV transmission. The laws incorrectly assume an HIV diagnosis is a “death sentence,” when in reality, it is a manageable medical condition.

Unproductive

There is no evidence that HIV criminal laws promote public health by increasing disclosure, HIV testing, or safer sex. At the same time, by singling out one disease, Ohio’s law stigmatizes  people living with HIV.

Unsupported

Ohio’s HIV laws are opposed by public health and criminal justice experts, such as the ACLU of Ohio, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

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CURRENT STATUS

Let's Talk Data. Here is a Snapshot of Ohio's Reality

192

The number of people in Ohio who have been charged with at least one of the unjust laws.

65

The number counties that have used one of the unjust laws to prosecute someone

6

The number of laws in Ohio impacting people living with HIV

Peer Perspectives: How to Navigate HIV Criminalization Laws in Ohio

Play Video about don't turn your back to HIV Criminalization written on a mans shirt

Please take a moment to view our video, which features inspiring individuals who are currently living with HIV. Through this video, we aim to create a greater understanding of our work and how it makes a positive impact in Ohio. We invite you to join us in supporting our cause and helping us spread awareness about HIV and its effects across the state.

JOIN OUR COALITION TO HELP MODERNIZE OUTDATED LAWS