States with laws that criminalize not disclosing being HIV positive prior to sex tend to have a lower PrEP-to-need ratio, which is calculated by dividing the state’s number of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) users by the number of people diagnosed with the virus in in a single year.

That’s the finding of a new study published in the journal Health Affairs in which the authors sought to identify associations between state-level policies and PrEP uptake.

Analyzing 2018 data from all 50 states, plus Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico, the investigators found that states with HIV criminalization laws had a lower PrEP-to-need ratio. This suggests that a lower proportinn of the people who would likely benefit from PrEP were taking it.

There were no associations between a state’s PrEP-to-need ratio and its Ryan White funding, median population or household income, whether the state had expanded its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, or the percentage of the population that was Latino, uninsured or had no more than a high school diploma.

“Legislators should consider how laws concerning HIV and sexual and gender minorities might protect against discrimination and subvert fear and stigma, given the potential impact of these policies on HIV prevention,” the study authors concluded.

“Our study corroborates the growing consensus that HIV criminalization laws offer little to no public health benefit and inhibit HIV prevention efforts,” Stephen Bonett, PhD, RN, the first author of the article and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a press release.

To read the study abstract, click here. 

To read a press release about the study, click here.