New analysis from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds that as many as 133 people have been incarcerated for HIV crimes in Georgia, costing the state more than $9 million over the last two decades.
HIV criminalization is a term used to describe laws that either criminalize otherwise legal conduct or increase the penalties for illegal conduct based upon a person’s HIV-positive status. Georgia has HIV-specific criminal laws that criminalize specific types of behaviors, such as sex work and needle sharing.
Using data from the Georgia Department of Corrections, researchers analyzed enforcement of HIV-related crimes in Georgia between 1999 and 2020. Nearly three-quarters of those incarcerated for HIV crimes in Georgia were men and the average sentence length for HIV crimes was 8.3 years.
“Our research shows that Georgia continues to enforce its laws criminalizing people living with HIV at near-record levels, even though none of Georgia’s HIV-related criminal laws require actual transmission of HIV,” said lead author Nathan Cisneros, the HIV Criminalization Analyst at the Williams Institute. “Additionally, the cost of incarcerating of people under Georgia’s HIV criminalization laws is at least $9 million dollars.”