Enforcement of HIV Criminalization in Maryland

January 2024

Using data obtained from the Maryland State Administrative Office of the Courts, this study examines the enforcement of HIV criminalization laws in Maryland.

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. states and territories have laws that criminalize people living with HIV.
Black people, especially Black men, are overrepresented in HIV-related crimes in Maryland.
Over two-thirds of people charged with HIV-related crimes were charged in Baltimore City, Montgomery County, or Prince George's County.
Data Points
of Maryland's population is Black
of HIV-related criminal cases involved Black people


The Williams Institute analyzed data from the state of Maryland about individuals who have been prosecuted for an HIV-related offense under Section 18-601.1 of the Maryland Health Code. These data were obtained from the Maryland State Administrative Office of the Courts. While previous comprehensive attempts to analyze the level of enforcement of Maryland’s HIV crime have identified less than six cases, our analysis revealed at least 104 prosecutions in the state because of an allegation of an HIV-related crime from 2000 to 2020.


  • In total, there have been at least 104 cases and at least 148 separate charges for “knowingly transferring HIV to another” in Maryland from 2000 to 2020. Among these 104 cases, three alleged only attempted “knowingly transferring HIV to another.”
  • We estimate that, from 2000 to 2020, between 82 and 104 people were charged with HIV-related offenses in Maryland.
  • Arrests continue to the present, with the latest filing date in 2020. In fact, there were more cases from 2010 to 2020 than from 2000 to 2010.
  • Enforcement is highly concentrated by geography: Baltimore City alone accounted for nearly a third (32%) of all HIV-related cases in the state, followed by Montgomery County (19%) and Prince George’s County (18%). These three counties combined accounted for over two-thirds (69%) of all HIV-related cases.
  • The youngest person with an HIV-related conviction was 21 years old, and the oldest was 59 years old. The median age was 35 years old.
  • Men made up the overwhelming majority (86%) of people with an HIV-related charge. Men were over-represented in these cases as compared to the state population (49%), and the population of PLWH in Maryland (66%). We were not able to identify people who are transgender among these individuals.
  • Likewise, Black people made up the overwhelming majority of people with HIV-related criminal cases in Maryland. Black people were 82% of all HIV-related cases, but only 30% of the state’s population, and 71% of people living with HIV in the state. People were identified only as Black or white; we are not able to confirm whether people also identify as Hispanic/Latino or multiple races.
    • Black men, in particular, are overrepresented—14% of the state’s population and 44% of people living with HIV, but 68% of HIV-related arrests.
  • Among cases with an HIV-related criminal charge where we have clear case outcomes, only 10% resulted in a guilty outcome on at least one HIV-related charge.
    • However, when looking at outcomes for any charge, HIV-related or not, 41% of these cases resulted in at least one guilty outcome. Media accounts from Maryland indicated that in some instances plea deals for defendants include dropping the HIV-related charge for a guilty plea on other charges.
    • While we only have complete demographic information for seven people with HIV-related convictions in Maryland, all seven were Black men.
  • We have sentencing information for convictions on 16 HIV-related charges; only 1 of those sentences was for less than 3 years, the maximum allowed under the statute. The mean sentence length was 2.9 years.

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Enforcement of HIV Criminalization in Maryland