West Virginia

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West Virginia does not have any HIV-specific laws criminalising ‘exposure’, non-disclosure, or transmission, but there are general disease laws which could be used to prosecute people living with HIV. However, we are not aware of any cases of HIV criminalisation in West Virginia.

The Public Health Code makes it an offence for anyone living with a ‘venereal disease’ to knowingly ‘expose or infect’ another person. No diseases are explicitly mentioned, and the scope of the law is unclear as ‘exposure’ is not defined. The offence carries a penalty of up to 30 days’ imprisonment and a fine. There does not appear to be any instances of this law being enforced against people living with HIV.

The only HIV-specific law in West Virginia allows for mandatory HIV testing for people charged with sexual offences. It does not seem that test results can be used to aid prosecutions, but there is no explicit limit on their use within the law.

Health laws in West Virginia permit officials to compel people suspected of living with STIs to submit to examination and treatment. Failure to comply can result in a misdemeanour charge and forced quarantine. Upon release from quarantine, people can be compelled to sign an agreement stipulating against certain behaviours which could ‘expose’ another to transmission, violation of which can result in misdemeanour punishment.

For a detailed analysis of HIV criminalisation in West Virginia, as well as all other US states, see the Center for HIV Law and Policy report, HIV Criminalisation in the United States: a Sourcebook on State and Federal HIV Criminal Law and Practice.


West Virginia Code § 16-4-20

General disease law (active)
Relevant text of the law

Communication of Disease

It shall be unlawful for any person suffering with an infectious venereal disease to perform any act which exposes another person to infection with said disease, or knowingly to infect or expose another person to infection with such disease; and no physician, health officer or other person shall give any certificate showing a person to be free from a venereal disease, but such certificate shall simply state the results of tests and examinations that may have been made, and what tests were made to arrive at the results stated.


This information was last reviewed in October 2022