Is it a crime to transmit HIV in Nevada?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Feb 24, 2015 | 0 Comments

Yes, unless the transmitter acted unknowingly or the person who contracted HIV consented to it.

Under NRS 201.205, it is illegal for someone who knows he/she has tested HIV positive then to deliberately engage in conduct that could transmit the virus to someone else. Typical conduct that can transmit HIV is having sexual intercourse or sharing needles.

There are three main defenses to the Nevada crime of deliberately transmitting HIV. They include:

  1. No knowledge of HIV+ status. If the defendant had no idea (or had no reason to know) that he/she was HIV positive, he/she should not be found guilty of intentional transmission of HIV. Therefore people who were never tested or notified of being HIV positive probably would not be criminally liable under NRS 201.205.
  2. No deliberate transmission. It is only a crime to transmit HIV if the person knowingly performed an act likely to transmit HIV. For example, if an HIV positive person gets raped and the rapist contracts HIV as a result, the victim should not be prosecuted for transmitting HIV.
  3. Consent. People who contract HIV from behaviors with full knowledge that the behaviors may likely cause them to contract HIV are not crime victims. If someone shares needles with or has sex with someone he/she knows is HIV positive, no crime was committed.

The intentional transmission of HIV is a category B felony in Nevada, carrying:

  • 2 to 10 years in Nevada State Prison, and/or
  • up to $10,000 in fines

This punishment also applies to prostitutes who are convicted of solicitation following a positive HIV test. Read more information about the Nevada defense of consent.


About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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