Enforcement of HIV Criminalization in Louisiana

September 2022

Using data obtained from the Louisiana Incident-Based Reporting System and from the state’s most populous parishes, this study examines the enforcement of HIV criminalization laws in Louisiana since 2011.

Louisiana's one HIV criminal law makes it a felony for a person who is knowingly living with HIV to intentionally expose another person to HIV.
HIV-related crimes in Louisiana are disproportionately enforced based on race and sex and impact Black men the most.
The number of HIV incidents in Louisiana—or interactions with law enforcement involving allegations of HIV crimes—is not declining over time.
Data Points
of people arrested for an HIV crime in Louisiana were Black men
of people living with HIV in the state are Black men


The Williams Institute analyzed data from the state of Louisiana about individuals who came into contact with the state’s criminal system through allegations of HIV-related crimes. We analyzed both law enforcement incident-level data and data from the state’s sex offender registry to understand the beginning and end stages of the criminalization cycle. In total, we estimate that between 158 and 176 people have had contact with Louisiana’s criminal legal system because of allegations of HIV crimes. 

Our analysis of incident-level data revealed that 

  • There have been at least 137 incidents reported to law enforcement in Louisiana that have included at least 147 separate allegations of an HIV-related crime since 2011. 
  • Between 128 and 136 people have been involved in these incidents. 
  • Enforcement is concentrated in East Baton Rouge Parish, Orleans Parish, and Calcasieu Parish. 
  • The number of incidents is not decreasing over time. 
  • Most incidents involved only allegations of an HIV-related crime. In the statewide incident-based data, 80% of incidents included only allegations of an HIV-related crime. 
  • Just over half of the incidents (52%) for which location data were available occurred at a home or residence, or a hotel, motel, or another lodging. Thirty-six percent occurred in a range of public settings (the location was unreported for 12% of incidents). 
  • Black people—and especially Black men—were the majority of people identified as suspects and arrested for HIV-related crimes.
    • In the statewide incident-based data, 63% of suspects were Black—45% were Black men. For incidents that resulted in arrest, all of those arrested were Black and 91% were Black men. 
    • In incident-based data from New Orleans, close to 80% of all suspects were identified as Black—58% were Black men. 
  • Women and Black people were approximately half of the people identified as a victim of HIV-related incidents.
    • In the statewide incident-based data, about one in six alleged offenses indicated a law enforcement officer or “society-at-large” as the victim, and among the remaining offenses, almost half were Black (47%) and over half (56%) were women, with an equal share of Black women and white women (28% each). 
    • In data from New Orleans, 70% of victims were identified as Black (60%) or Hispanic/Latino (10%), including 55% who were Black men. In the New Orleans incidents, and unlike the trend observed statewide, the vast majority of victims were men (95%). 
  • Non-sexual contact likely was the basis for the alleged crime in the majority of incidents for which we have data.
    • When analyzing victim-suspect relationships, we observed that over 40% indicated an intimate or romantic relationship (“[ex-]boyfriend/girlfriend” “or “spouse”). Of these, 90% indicated a different-sex relationship, including 60% that indicate different-sex relationships among Black couples. 

Our analysis of the sex offender registry revealed that 

  • There have been at least 47 separate HIV-related convictions resulting in sex offender registration since 1998 involving 43 people. 
  • Most people (63%) on the sex offender registry because of an HIV-related conviction are on the registry only because of the HIV-related conviction. 
  • Three-quarters of people on the sex offender registry for an HIV-related conviction were Black.
    • Black men were 63% of all HIV registrants but only 48% of the overall SOR. Black men are 44% of people living with HIV in Louisiana and 15% of the overall state population. 
  • HIV-related SOR registrants had a median sentence of incarceration of 4.3 years. 
  • Based on sex offender registry data, Louisiana taxpayers have paid at least $6.5 million in prison incarceration costs related to HIV-related crimes.

Download the full report

Enforcement of HIV Criminalization in Louisiana