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A former pro wrestler's recent conviction for not telling his sexual partners he was HIV-positive raises questions about state HIV disclosure laws. How common are these laws, and what do they require?
A jury convicted Andre Davis, 29, who once wrestled under the name "Gangsta of Love," under Ohio's HIV disclosure law. Davis was sentenced to 32 years in prison.
Ohio is among at least 24 states that have enacted HIV disclosure laws, according to a 2008 study in The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics. Two broad types of laws exist, the study found:
State HIV disclosure laws can be classified as either "strict" or "flexible," according to the 2008 study. Strict laws, such as Ohio's, require people to disclose their HIV status to sexual partners prior to any type of sexual contact.
Under "strict" HIV disclosure laws, sexual contact includes intercourse, oral sex, and penetration by any object. Conviction usually does not require the emission of semen, or the infection of a victim.
Along with Ohio, laws in Arkansas, Michigan, and New Jersey also fall into the "strict" category, the study found.
Compare those laws with so-called flexible laws regarding HIV disclosure. California's law is the "least restrictive," the study found: For perpetrators to be convicted, they must engage in unprotected intercourse and infect their partner with HIV.
Under "flexible" disclosure laws, people who are HIV positive can legally use condoms and perform sex acts other than intercourse, without having to disclose their HIV status.
So which type of law is more effective? It's not clear, but either type is better than having no law, the study concluded. Flexible laws may actually produce a greater reduction in the risk of infection, because of the "safer sex" options available to HIV-positive sexual partners, the authors said.
Aside from the states mentioned above, others with HIV disclosure laws include Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington state.
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