Association of HIV diagnosis rates and laws criminalizing HIV exposure in the United States

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Abstract

Objective:

To assess whether state criminal exposure laws are associated with HIV and stage 3 (AIDS) diagnosis rates in the United States.

Design:

We assessed the relationship between HIV and stage 3 (AIDS) diagnosis data from the National HIV Surveillance System and the presence of a state criminal exposure law as identified through WestlawNext by using generalized estimating equations.

Methods:

We limited analysis to persons aged at least 13 years with diagnosed HIV infection or AIDS reported to the National HIV Surveillance System of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The primary outcome measures were rates of diagnosis of HIV (2001–2010 in 33 states) and AIDS (1994–2010 in 50 states) per 100 000 individuals per year. In addition to criminal exposure laws, state-level factors evaluated for inclusion in models included income, unemployment, poverty, education, urbanicity, and race/ethnicity.

Results:

At the end of the study period, 30 states had laws criminalizing HIV exposure. In bivariate models (P < 0.05), unemployment, poverty, education, urbanicity, and race/ethnicity were associated with HIV and AIDS diagnoses. In final models, proportion of adults with less than a high school education and percentage of the population living in urban areas were significantly associated with HIV and AIDS diagnoses over time; criminal exposure laws were not associated with diagnosis rates.

Conclusion:

We found no association between HIV or AIDS diagnosis rates and criminal exposure laws across states over time, suggesting that these laws have had no detectable HIV prevention effect.

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