USA - Alabama

Last updated on: 27 April 2012

Criminalisation of HIV transmission/exposure

Alabama
Whether Specific law enacted: 
Yes
Number of people prosecuted: 
1
Number of people convicted: 
N/A
Applicable law: 

ALA. CODE § 22-11A-21(C)

Penalties for person afflicted with sexually transmitted disease for transmitting such disease to another person

Any person afflicted with an STD who knowingly transmits, assumes the risk of transmitting, or does any act which will probably or likely transmit such disease to another person is guilty of a Class C misdemeanor.

HIV included among STDs, see ALA. ADMIN. CODE r. 420-4-1-.03(2008).

Class C misdemeanors are punishable by a $500 fine or up to three months in jail.

Key Cases: 

In Brock v. State, an HIV-positive inmate who was in the AIDS unit of an Alabama prison was charged with attempted murder and two counts of assault when he allegedly became belligerent and bit a police officer. The police officer did not test positive for HIV. At trial, the jury acquitted Brock of the attempted murder charge but convicted him of first-degree assault, a crime which required that the defendant both intend to cause and actually cause “serious physical injury” with a “deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.” The prosecution argued that because the defendant was HIV-positive, his mouth and teeth were “highly capable of causing death or serious physical injury” and should be considered dangerous weapons or instruments for the purposes of the assault charges.

On appeal, Alabama’s Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed the first-degree assault conviction and downgraded his conviction to assault in the third degree. The court held that the state failed to establish the essential elements of a case of first-degree assault against Brock. The court stated that no evidence was provided that Brock's mouth and teeth were “deadly weapon[s]” as defined by Alabama statute. Moreover, the state did not prove that Brock intended to cause serious physical harm to the prison guard. The court noted that the state provided no evidence that HIV can be transmitted through a human bite, and that the court did not believe it to be an established scientific  fact that HIV could be transmitted in such a manner.

Excerpted from: Positive Justice Project. Ending & Defending Against HIV Criminalization, A  Manual For Advocates: Vol 1 States and Federal Laws and Prosecutions. Center for HIV Law and Policy, New York. Fall 2010 (with additional laws and cases through December 2011)

Discussion: 

There are no data regarding whether people with HIV have been prosecuted under Alabama’s communicable disease exposure statute. However, Alabama has prosecuted potential HIV exposure under general criminal laws (see Brock v State, above).

Survey respondents/Organisations working on HIV and the Law: 

Information obtained from: Positive Justice Project. Ending & Defending Against HIV Criminalization, A  Manual For Advocates: Vol 1 States and Federal Laws and Prosecutions. Center for HIV Law and Policy, New York. Fall 2010 (with additional laws and cases through December 2011)

Further reading: 

Positive Justice Project. Ending & Defending Against HIV Criminalization, A  Manual For Advocates: Vol 1 States and Federal Laws and Prosecutions. Center for HIV Law and Policy, New York. Fall 2010 (with additional laws and cases through December 2011).

Other laws and policies with an impact on responses to HIV

Laws and regulations relating to entry, stay or residence in the country: 

U.S. President Barack Obama has announced that all current restrictions affecting people with HIV from entering or migrating to the United States are lifted as of January 4, 2010. The final rule was published in the Federal Registry November 2, 2009. It stated: "As a result of this final rule, aliens will no longer be inadmissible into the United States based solely on the ground they are infected with HIV, and they will not be required to undergo HIV testing as part of the required medical examination for U.S. immigration."New instructions are being provided to panel physicians and civil surgeons who administer medical exams as for immigration purposes, but it may take time until they are all aware of the change, so residency seekers should be prepared. The revised instructions can be found at: www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dq/technica.htm

From January 4, 2010, people living with HIV can enter the U.S. like anybody else.

Guidance on the new rule is published here: http://travel.state.gov/visa/laws/telegrams/telegrams_4631.html and an HIV Travel and Immigration FAQ brochure is available for download in English and Spanish here: http://immigrationequality.org/template.php?pageid=176.

Important note for visitors under the visa waiver program (for countries where a visa is not required to travel to the USA) and are living with HIV, please note that HIV is no longer considered a communicable disease for entry purposes. When submitting the online ESTA form to clear your entry to the U.S., it is important that you do check „no“ for the question about communicable diseases. HIV is no longer considered as such by the U.S. authorities.

Customs regulations require people entering with prescription medication like antiretroviral drugs to carry a doctor’s certificate in English, stating that the drugs are required to treat a personal condition. This requirement applies to all prescription drugs.

Medication should always be carried in hand luggage, as checked luggage may be delayed or get lost. If you are carrying-on liquid medication exceeding 3 ounces / 100 ml, you must declare it at the checkpoint for inspection.For updated information, please go to: www.hivrestrictions.org

Laws relating to same sex, sexual relations: 

Male to Male relationships: Legal

Punishments for male to male relationships: No law

Female to Female Relationships: Legal

Age of consent: Equal for heterosexuals and homosexuals

Marriage and Substitutes for Marriage: Marriage laws vary in this country depending on area

Is it possible to change your gender on official documents?: Only in some areas
 
Gay or lesbian able to serve in the armed forces: No

For updated information, please go to: http://ilga.org