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

Data from the GNP+ Global Criminalisation Scan

Number of prosecutions25
Number of convictions15
Applicable laws

Iowa Code § 709C.1
1.  A person commits criminal transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus if the person, knowing that the person's human immunodeficiency virus status is positive, does any of the following:
a.  Engages in intimate contact with another person.
b.  Transfers, donates, or provides the person's blood, tissue, semen, organs, or other potentially infectious bodily fluids for transfusion, transplantation, insemination, or other administration to another person.
c.  Dispenses, delivers, exchanges, sells, or in any other way transfers to another person any nonsterile intravenous or intramuscular drug paraphernalia previously used by the person infected with the human immunodeficiency virus.

2.  For the purposes of this section:
a.  "Human immunodeficiency virus" means the human immunodeficiency virus identified as the causative agent of acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
b.  "Intimate contact" means the intentional exposure of the body of one person to a bodily fluid of another person in a manner that could result in the transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus.
c.  "Intravenous or intramuscular drug paraphernalia" means any equipment, product, or material of any kind which is peculiar to and marketed for use in injecting a substance into or withdrawing a bodily fluid from the human body.

3.  Criminal transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus is a class "B" felony. 

4.  This section shall not be construed to require that an infection with the human immunodeficiency virus has occurred for a person to have committed criminal transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus.

5.  It is an affirmative defense that the person exposed to the human immunodeficiency virus knew that the infected person had a positive human immunodeficiency virus status at the time of the action of exposure, knew that the action of exposure could result in transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus, and consented to the action of exposure with that knowledge.

A Class B felony shall be confined for no more than twenty-five years. Sex offender registration is also required.


In April 2009, a gay man, Nick Rhoades was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison after he failed to disclose his HIV status to a one-time sexual partner he met online.  He was also required to register as a sex offender and undergo a sex offender treatment program. Following targeted advocacy of the sentencing judge, his sentence was later reduced to five years probation and mandatory sex offender registration. 

Subsequently, Iowa's HIV-specific law, passed in 1998, was the focus of three investigative reports by journalist Lynda Waddington in the Iowa Independent.  (Articles attached below)

Since then, advocates in Iowa have succeeded in persuading lawmakers to consider revisions to Iowa's statute (see above).

Meanwhile, Mr Rhoades' case and the case of another man, Donald Bogardus, are being readied for appeal at Iowa's Supreme Court (see 'HIV law is too severe given risks, critics say', below)

Although cases and prosecutions are well documented in Iowa, there has been some confusion regarding numbers of charges versus numbers of individuals charged.

Iowa court and public health records show that 25 individuals have been charged with 37 counts of criminal transmission of HIV since the law took effect in 1999, and 15 of these defendants have been convicted on a total of 25 counts.

(From Moon L. Critics address flaws in Iowa’s HIV criminalization law, The Daily Iowan, Feb 9 2012)

Given that there are an estimated 1,828 people living with (diagnosed) HIV in Iowa (Source: Iowa Watch), prosecutions per capita of PLHIV are an estimated 13.68 per 1000, one of the highest in the world for any single jurisdiction.

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/ia-iowa/

USA Alleged exposure Gay men Prosecutions Defence lawyers US: Iowa man’s attorney asks court to dismiss HIV case Waterloo man’s attorney asks court to dismiss HIV case August 10, 2012 - See more at: http://www.hivjustice.net/site/cases/?casetype=335&country=234&from-month=-1&from-year=-1&to-month=-1&to-year=-1#sthash.3RBgg8Ti.dpuf