Ohio Supreme Court Rules Criminal Statute Requiring Disclosure of HIV Status Does Not Violate the First Amendment

In August, the Ohio Supreme Court decided an issue of first impression on the constitutionality of a statute proscribing a person who knows they are HIV positive from engaging in sexual conduct without disclosing that status.  Orlando Batista, represented by the Hamilton County Public Defenders, brought the challenge arguing that the statute is a content-based regulation that compels speech and violates the Equal Protection Clauses.  State v. Batista, 2017-Ohio-8304, ¶ 2.  Despite the statute’s requirement that an individual with HIV disclose that information, the Ohio Supreme Court concluded that the statute regulated conduct and required only incidental speech. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections informed Orlando Batista that he tested positive for HIV in 2001. Years later, he participated in a sexual relationship without informing his partner, R.S., that he was HIV positive, all of which he admitted to police.  Batista was…

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