Print this page    •   Back to Web version of article

Policy & Politics
Barbara Lee Bill Would Push States to Roll Back Criminal HIV Laws

May 9, 2013

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) has introduced a bill in the US House of Representatives that would force the repeal or amendment of state and federal laws that make it a crime for HIV-infected people to expose sexual partners to the virus, even if they do not transmit the virus. Many states enacted laws that criminalize intentional HIV transmission to satisfy requirements of the Ryan White Care Act of 1990.

Lee stated that her participation on the United Nations Development Program's Global Commission on HIV and the Law made her aware of US laws that discriminate against HIV-infected people. For example, people who know they have HIV and expose a partner through unprotected sex without forewarning the partner can go to jail for three to eight years under California's law. Lee stated that it is against the law in 32 states and 2 US territories for an HIV-infected person to expose another person, even if they do not transmit the virus. The Center for HIV Law and Policy reported at least 350 cases in 36 states where HIV-infected people have been "arrested or prosecuted" for having consensual sex or "biting and spitting."

Lee unsuccessfully introduced a similar bill in 2011, but H.R. 1843, the Repeal Existing Policies that Encourage and Allow Legal (REPEAL) HIV Discrimination Act, has a Republican co-author, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), which may attract Republican support. The bill places responsibility for monitoring new and existing laws on the US attorney general, the secretary of Defense, and the secretary of Health and Human Services; these agencies also would create a set of best practices for lawmakers.

Back to other news for May 2013

Excerpted from:
05.09.2013; Josh Richman

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

General Disclaimer: is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, consult your health care provider.