Equality Ohio and Ohio Health Modernization Movement Release Groundbreaking Report: Over 200 Ohioans Criminalized for HIV

Equality Ohio and Ohio Health Modernization Movement Release Groundbreaking Report: Over 200 Ohioans Criminalized for HIV

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 28th, 2024

Media Contact:  MD Sitzes, Communications Manager, Equality Ohio, media@equalityohio.org  

According to a new report, released jointly by Equality Ohio and the Ohio Health Modernization Movement (OHMM), there were at least 214 cases from 2014-2020 in which Ohioans living with HIV were criminally charged under laws that specifically criminalize people who are living with HIV or AIDS. 

Equality Ohio and OHMM collaborated for over three years to gather data across all 88 counties in Ohio about the use of these laws and the consequences of HIV criminalization across Ohio to produce the report, titled: The Enforcement of HIV Criminalization in Ohio: An In-Depth Analysis.  

Equality Ohio Co-Interim Executive Director Siobhan Boyd-Nelson remarked, “In the pursuit of justice, we cannot ignore the stark realities laid bare by this report. We remain firm in our resolve to dismantle these barriers, to advocate tirelessly for the rights and dignity of all Ohioans, and to ensure that both lived and legal equality are not just aspirations, but realities for every individual in our state.” 

Bryan Jones, Steering Committee Member of OHMM, stated, “This report unveils the unsettling reality of HIV criminalization in Ohio. The disproportionate impact on the Black community underlines the urgent need for legal reform and greater public awareness.” 

Equality Ohio Senior Staff Attorney Kate Mozynski Esq., primary author of the report, added “It shows us a real picture of what is happening in Ohio. Behind each of these cases, there is a real Ohioan living with the unfortunate consequences of the enforcement of these outdated laws.”

Researchers identified that many of these cases were concentrated geographically, with at least 26% of all statewide cases charged in Cuyahoga county. 

Further, the data shows a significant racial disparity in who is being charged under these statutes. Though only 12.5% of Ohioans identified as Black in the 2020 census, over 35% of people charged under Ohio’s HIV statutes were identified as Black, and over 28% of all cases in Ohio were charged against Black men. 

Today, the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law released a separate report on the legal and legislative history of HIV criminalization in Ohio and key trends in the broad enforcement of the state’s HIV-related criminal laws. While different in scope, their report similarly shows a disproportionate impact of HIV criminalization on women and Black Ohioans and a high concentration of enforcement in Cuyahoga County and other counties.

Ohio based LGBTQ+ focused news outlet, The Buckeye Flame also released two pieces of coverage today, one discussing the report and one discussing the laws.*

Ohio is one of many states with laws that specifically criminalize people living with HIV due to their HIV status, including for activities that present little to no risk of transmission of the virus. There has been a growing movement in Ohio and nationally to modernize these laws to reflect accurate science about how HIV is acquired and transmitted. 

Read the report here.


Equality Ohio identifies and transforms systems and institutions so LGBTQ+ Ohioans can fully access legal and lived equality.

OHMM mobilizes a broad coalition, including individuals and communities who are disproportionately impacted by HIV, to replace fear-based, stigmatizing laws that criminalize HIV status with evidence-based, nondiscriminatory laws that protect public health.

*this sentence has been updated on 2/28 at 12:30 pm.