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Government & Politics

Ohio Supreme Court Says HIV-Disclosure Law Does Not Violate Free Speech

photo of Ohio Supreme Court
DAN KONIK
/
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

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 said his behavior was reprehensible, but the law perpetuates a stigma that keeps people from being tested and getting treatment.

“This case is bigger than him. This case is about all HIV positive people in Ohio.”

But Samuel Peterson with the Attorney General’s office said the law 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 victim – and is so narrowly tailored that it doesn’t violate anyone’s free speech rights.