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For information on getting involved in HIV criminalization reform advocacy in California, please email info@seroproject.com.

Data from the GNP+ Global Criminalisation Scan

Number of prosecutions10
Applicable laws

Cal. Health and Safety Code § 120291

Any person who exposes another to HIV by engaging in unprotected sexual activity (anal or vaginal intercourse without a condom) when the infected person knows at the time of the unprotected sex that he or she is infected with HIV, has not disclosed his or her HIV-positive status, and acts with the specific intent to infect the other person with HIV, is guilty of a felony. A person's knowledge of his or her HIV-positive status, without additional evidence, is not sufficient to prove specific intent.

Cal. Health and Safety Code § 120290

Any person afflicted with any contagious, infectious, or communicable disease who willfully exposes him/herself to another person is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Cal. Health and Safety Code § 1621.5

It is a felony for any person who knows that he or she has HIV to donate blood, body organs or other tissue, semen, or breast milk to any medical center, breast milk bank or semen bank. (Does not apply if person is mentally incompetent, donates blood for autologous donation, or self-defers his or her own blood under Cal. Health & Safety Code § 1603.3(b).)

Cal. Penal Code § 12022.85

Any person who commits a sexual offense listed in this statute with the knowledge that he or she is infected with HIV at the time of commission shall receive a three-year enhancement for each violation in addition to the sentence provided for the sexual offense itself.

Cal. Pen. Code § 647f

Any person who is charged with soliciting or engaging in prostitution under Cal. Pen. Code § 647(b) shall be also charged with a previous conviction(s)and with having been informed of positive blood test result(s) if: (1) the prior conviction(s) was for violating Cal. Pen. Code § 647 or any other offense listed in Cal. Pen. Code § 1202.1(d); (2) the person was tested for HIV in connection with the prior conviction(s) with positive test results; and(3) the person was informed of that positive test result(s). If the previous conviction and informed test results are found to be true by the trier of fact or are admitted by the defendant, the defendant is guilty of a felony.


The California State Supreme Court has ruled that people can be sued in a civil court for transmitting HIV to a sexual partner even if they don’t know their HIV status. (Bridget B v. John B. 2006)

California Senate Bill 705, criminalising intentional HIV transmission passed on August 19, 1998.

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.

Further cases and news can be found at: http://www.hivjustice.net/country/us/ca-california/