New Jersey's HIV Exposure Law and the HIV-Related Attitudes, Beliefs, and Sexual and Seropositive Status Disclosure Behaviors of Persons Living with HIV

A study of associations between HIV-positive people’s awareness of New Jersey’s HIV exposure law and their HIV-related attitudes, beliefs and seropositive disclosure behaviors found that awareness of the law had little effect on the disclosure behavior of HIV-positive individuals.

The authors administered anonymous surveys to a convenience sample of both HIV-positive and negative individuals, and compared the responses of participants who were and were not aware of the HIV exposure law.

Key Findings:

  • Fifty-one percent of participants were aware of New Jersey’s HIV exposure law, and 83 percent of participants reported being in compliance with the law in the past year.
  • Participants who were aware of the law were more likely to report being sexually active in the past year than those who were not, but there was no significant difference in compliance between aware and unaware sexually active participants.
  • Participants who were unaware of the law had more internalized HIV-related stigma, and were less comfortable with serostatus disclosure.
  • Those who were compliant with the law were more likely to support criminalizing nondisclosure, and were more comfortable with engaging in serostatus disclosure.

The authors suggest that interventions to increase comfort with serostatus disclosure may be more effective than punitive legislation to encourage compliance with HIV exposure law.