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Can I be charged for infecting someone with HIV

Apr 15, 2012

I live in Texas and have been positive for 6 months and still learning how to live my live. I recently gave oral sex to someone and did not mention my status. He later found out and is waiting for his test, he says he will press charges on me. Is it possible for someone to press charges?

Response from Ms. Douaihy

Dear Writer,

I am very glad that you wrote in with this question. Learning to live with new information about one's HIV status is hard enough, but learning how to navigate a new legal landscape of rights and risks adds another layer of difficulty.

At this writing almost 40 states and US territories have laws that make exposing someone to HIV a crime. While the state of Texas does not have a law that specifically criminalizes HIV exposure or transmission, positive individuals have been prosecuted for HIV exposure under the state's other criminal laws. In fact (and please forgive me for sounding discouraging) the Texas high court has upheld some of the country's harshest prosecutions for HIV exposure, in some cases calling HIV a "deadly weapon".

Unfortunately, these laws do not always require even a real risk of transmission. For essential information on this important topic, look no further than excellent resources at The Center for HIV Law and Policy. I specifically direct you to their fact sheet: "Guidance for People Living with HIV Who Are At Risk of, or Are Facing, Criminal Prosecution for HIV Nondisclosure or Exposure, Center for HIV Law and Policy (2011)".

In these circumstances, knowledge is power. I wish you good luck.

The Center for HIV Law and Policy

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