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HIV and the Law

Fast Facts

photo of a stethescope and gavel

Fast Facts: Laws and policies are structural interventions that can be facilitators or barriers to effective human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention and care activities.  Examples of these laws and policies include:

  • 46 states plus D.C. require reporting of all CD4 and viral load laboratory data to HIV surveillance programs.
  • 26 states have HIV-specific criminal laws.
  • All states now have HIV testing laws that are consistent with CDC’s 2006 recommendations.1

HIV Legal Assessment Program

Given the importance of law in HIV prevention work, CDC has implemented public health law research methods to systematically collect and assess statutory and regulatory frameworks across a range of legal domains to help determine whether these legal frameworks act as barriers or facilitators to effective HIV prevention.  DHAP has focused on the public health implications of state statutes and regulations across key HIV prevention areas, such as HIV testing, Medicaid reimbursement for routine HIV screening, laboratory reporting of CD4 and viral load data for HIV surveillance, and criminalization of potential HIV exposure.

State legislative searches are conducted in Thomson Reuters Westlaw® (Thomas Reuters, Eagan, Minnesota) on 51 jurisdictions (50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia) using a verified search string for each type of law. Laws were included if they had at least one characteristic related to the topic being researched.

The information presented here does not constitute legal advice and does not represent the legal views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services, nor is it a comprehensive analysis of all legal provisions relevant to HIV. This information is subject to change and does not contain measures implemented by counties, cities, or other localities. Use of any provision herein should be contemplated only in conjunction with advice from legal counsel.


1Based on the 2006 “Revised Recommendations for HIV testing of adults, adolescents, and pregnant women in health-Care settings,” consistency was based on two key components: consent and counselling. States’ laws were considered consistent with CDC’s recommendations on the consent component if consent for HIV testing was: opt-out, part of the general medical consent form, and could be given orally. States’ laws were considered consistent with CDC’s recommendations on the counselling component if the law did not require prevention counselling prior to testing.