The Williams Institute analyzed data from the state of Virginia about individuals who came into contact with the state’s criminal legal system through allegations of committing crimes related to HIV, Hepatitis B, and syphilis (HIV-related crimes). The analysis reveals that
- At least 97 people in Virginia have been arrested for allegations of at least 147 separate HIV-related criminal offenses since the year 2001.
- Arrests for consensual sexual contact without disclosing HIV status account for about four in ten (41%) of all HIV-related arrests.
- About six in ten arrests (59%) alleged “intent to transmit” HIV or another disease.
- Arrests for HIV crimes fall disproportionately on Black Virginians: Black people account for 20% of Virginia’s population, but 58% of the state’s people living with HIV (PLWH), and 68% of all those arrested for HIV-related offenses.
- Men are 75% of the state’s PLWH, but 87% of people arrested for HIV-related offenses.
- Black men are 40% of PLWH in Virginia, but 59% of all people arrested for HIV-related offenses.
- Over 40% of those arrested for HIV offenses in Virginia come from Richmond (18%), Norfolk (10%), Newport News (5%), Virginia Beach (4%), and Amherst County (4%).
- In all, 18% of those arrested for HIV-related crimes only came into contact with the criminal legal system because of allegations of HIV-related offenses—they had no other criminal history.
- Until 2021, Virginia’s HIV-related criminal statute did not require contact that can transmit HIV, nor did it require actual transmission.
- Charges were filed in over 70% of HIV-related arrests in Virginia.
- Overall, over half (54%) of all charges filed resulted in a guilty outcome.
- Guilty outcomes resulted in a sentence of 2.1 years on average.
- In total, people were sentenced to 121 years for HIV-related convictions.
- Incarcerating people for HIV-related offenses has cost Virginia at least $3.2 million.