US: Williams Institute publishes new report on the enforcement of HIV Criminalization in Maryland

Williams Institute report: Black people account for 82 percent of HIV criminal cases in Md.

report the Williams Institute released on Thursday notes Black people account for 82 percent of HIV-related criminal cases in Maryland.

The report notes Black people account for 30 percent of Maryland’s population, and 71 percent of people living with HIV in the state. The Williams Institute report also indicates Black men account for 14 percent of Maryland’s population and 44 percent of people living with HIV in the state, but comprise 68 percent of people accused in HIV-related criminal cases.

The report indicates at least 104 cases and at least 148 charges of “knowingly transferring HIV to another” in Maryland from 2000-2020. Three of the 104 cases, according to the report, “alleged only attempted ‘knowing transferring HIV to another.’”

Sixty-nine percent of “enforcement of HIV criminal laws” in Maryland happened in three jurisdictions: Baltimore City (32 percent), Montgomery County (19 percent) and Prince George’s County (18 percent.)

“Maryland’s law was enacted in 1989 at the height of the AIDS crisis before we had effective treatments for HIV,” said Williams Institute Criminalization Project Director Nathan Cisneros, who is the study’s lead author. “We now have medical treatments that wholly eliminate the risk of transmitting HIV through sex, yet these advances are not reflected in Maryland law despite several reform attempts in recent years.”

Section 18-601.1 of Maryland’s Health Code states “an individual who has the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) may not knowingly transfer or attempt to transfer the human immunodeficiency virus to another individual.” Anyone “who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction” could face a fine of up to $2,500 and/or up to three years in prison.

The Williams Institute based its report on data it obtained from the Maryland State Administrative Office of the Courts.

Download the full report