This review of literature identifies and describes US empirical studies on the criminalization of HIV exposure, examines findings on key questions about these laws, highlights knowledge gaps, and sets a course for future research. Studies published between 1990 and 2014 were identified through key word searches of relevant electronic databases and discussions with experts. Twenty-five empirical studies were identified. Sixteen of these studies used quantitative methods with more than half of these being cross-sectional survey studies. Study samples included male and female HIV-positive persons, HIV-positive and -negative men who have sex with men, public health personnel, and medical providers. Research questions addressed awareness of and attitudes toward HIV exposure laws, potential influences of these laws on seropositive status disclosure for persons living with HIV, HIV testing for HIV-negative persons, safer sex practices for both groups, and associations between HIV exposure laws and HIV-related stigma. Surveys of the laws and studies of enforcement practices were also conducted. Attention should be shifted from examining attitudes about these laws to exploring their potential influence on public health practices and behaviors related to the HIV continuum of care. Studies examining enforcement and prosecution practices are also needed. Adapting a theoretical framework in future research may be useful in better understanding the influence of HIV exposure laws on HIV risk behaviors.
Criminalization of HIV Exposure: A Review of Empirical Studies in the United States.