Ohio Supreme Court Says HIV Disclosure Law Doesn't Violate Free Speech Rights

Oct 26, 2017

The Ohio Supreme Court says a law requiring people living with HIV to disclose their status to potential sexual partners is constitutional and doesn’t violate free speech rights.

Orlando Batista was sentenced in Hamilton County to eight years in prison for not telling his girlfriend he’s HIV-positive. His lawyer Josh Thompson told the Court in May his behavior was reprehensible, but the law perpetuates a stigma that keeps people from being tested and getting treatment. “But this case is bigger than him. This case is about all HIV positive people in Ohio," Thompson said.

But Samuel Peterson with the Attorney General’s office said it was carefully written to help curb the spread of HIV and to ensure that only one other person would know the other’s HIV status: “It ensures that informed consent exists between sexual partners.”

The court agreed with the state; that the law achieves an important goal – protecting victims – and is so narrowly tailored that it doesn’t violate anyone’s free speech rights.