When it comes to being HIV-positive and having sex it is often discussed how important it is to take precautions to avoid transmission from an HIV-positive person to an HIV-negative partner. One element that doesn’t always see as much discussion but is extremely important is disclosure. Namely, if you’re HIV-positive and about to have sex with someone who is unaware of your status, what steps you can take to protect yourself from any potential legal trouble.
Depending on the state you are in, should you have sex with someone who isn’t aware of your HIV-positive status you could in fact be open to legal prosecution. For example, in Missouri even if you use a condom and have an undetectable viral load, having sex with someone without disclosing your status is in fact a felony offense that can result in anywhere between 10 years to life in prison.
There is the argument that this basically criminalizes HIV, as if someone were to have Syphilis, Herpes, or any other sexually-transmitted infection and behave in the same way they would not face nearly the same degree of consequences. While it is of course important to disclose any sort of sexually-transmitted infection to a potential sex-partner, it is indeed a cause for concern that HIV is singled-out as a case where someone could possibly be incarcerated for the rest of their life (again, depending on the state) if they don’t disclose their status–no matter what efforts they take to be safe.
As it may take some time for the laws governing HIV and disclosure to be amended or repealed it is wise to make sure you are familiar with the laws regarding disclosure within your state. As always, the smartest thing you can do before having sex is have a frank and honest discussion with your potential partner.
Laws regarding disclosure in various regions:
Arguments that disclosure laws criminalize HIV: