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Abstract

The HIV epidemic is almost a decade old and it is estimated that one million to two million Americans are infected. Nevertheless, too often it has been irrational fears of contagion and disapproval of the subcultures associated with the illness that have driven society's response to the epidemic. Has the legal community, which prides itself on being governed by due process and rationality, reacted any differently than society at large? To what degree have legal decisions and policies been governed by fear, prejudice, and ignorance rather than by science and sound public policy? This Essay will explore the response of the criminal justice to the HIV epidemic in three areas: specific cases that have been the focus of public debate; attempts to criminalize activities thought to spread the disease; and rule-making efforts by courts that affect HIV litigants.

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