On January 10, 2018, the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law released the first-ever report of HIV criminalization in the US state of Georgia. The report follows previous studies examining available data on all arrests or prosecutions resulting from enforcement of HIV criminalization laws in a single jurisdiction. These studies have been conducted to fill gaps in understanding how laws are enforced because tracking cases can be very difficult. There is no national database recording arrests or prosecutions under HIV criminalization laws, reporting systems vary by state and city, and the quality and comprehensiveness of records can vary even within jurisdictions.
Findings on HIV criminalization in Georgia are consistent with these prior studies. Like the data in Nashville and California, the data in Georgia point to race-, sex-, and geographic-based disparities in the application of HIV criminalization laws. Yet a distinctive finding was high rates of enforcement in rural areas of Georgia. In some smaller counties, as many as 10 percent of the residents living with HIV had experienced an HIV-related arrest.
Below are some of the main findings from the Williams Institute report on HIV criminalization in Georgia. You can read the report here.
From 1988-2017, there were 571 HIV-related arrests in Georgia.
Georgians with HIV in rural areas were more likely to be arrested for an HIV-related crime than those living in urban areas.
Black men were more likely to be convicted of an HIV-related offense than White men.
When considering the demographics of people living with HIV in Georgia, White women were more likely to be arrested for an HIV-criminal offense than other groups.
Convictions for HIV arrests were three times as likely when there was a concurrent sex work arrest.
Sex work offenses were more likely to involve women and particularly Black women.
The views reflected in this expert column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent those of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law or Georgetown University. This blog is solely informational in nature, and not intended as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed and retained attorney in your state or country.