USA - Mississippi

Last updated on: 11 October 2012

Criminalisation of HIV transmission/exposure

Mississippi
Whether Specific law enacted: 
Yes
Number of people prosecuted: 
2
Number of people convicted: 
2
Applicable law: 

MISS. CODE ANN. § 97-27-14(1)

Exposure to HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C

It shall be a felony for any person to knowingly expose another person to HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C. Prior knowledge and willing consent to the exposure is a defense to a charge brought under this statute.

MISS. CODE ANN. § 97-27-14(2)

Endangerment by bodily substance with knowledge of HIV status

A person commits the crime of endangerment by bodily substance if the person attempts to cause or knowingly causes a corrections employee, a visitor to a correctional facility, or another prisoner or offender to come into contact with blood, seminal fluid, urine, feces, or saliva. A violation of this subsection is a misdemeanor unless the person violating this section knows that he is infected with HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C, in which case it is a felony.

MISS. CODE ANN. § 97-27-14(3)

Penalties for felony HIV exposure or endangerment by bodily fluids

Any person convicted of a felony violation of this section shall be imprisoned for not less than three years nor more than ten years and/or a fine of not more than $10,000.

MISS. CODE ANN. § 41-23-2

Violating the lawful order of a health officer

Any person who shall knowingly and willfully violate the lawful order of the county, district or state health officer where that person is afflicted with a life-threatening communicable disease or the causative agent thereof shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $5,000 or by imprisonment in the penitentiary for not more than five years, or both.

Key Cases: 

The only prosecution on record for HIV exposure in Mississippi occurred in October 2008, when a 28-year-old wife pleaded guilty to knowingly exposing her husband to HIV after she failed to tell him that she was HIV-positive. The woman allegedly knew she was HIV-positive since 1997, but never told her husband, whom she married in 2003. Under the terms of her plea agreement, she received a ten-year prison sentence, with nine years suspended and one year to be served under house arrest. Neither the woman’s ex-husband nor her five-year-old son tested positive for HIV though such facts play no role in a prosecution.

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: 

From the information received, it appears that although there was an HIV-related prosecution prior to 2004 under general laws, it wasn’t until 2008 that anyone was prosecuted under 2004's HIV-specific statutes.

Survey respondents/Organisations working on HIV and the Law: 

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).

Recent cases can be found at: Positive Justice Project. Prosecutions and Arrests for HIV Exposure in the United States, 2008–2012. Center for HIV Law and Policy, 2012.

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

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