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The Law and Disease: Will an Apple a Day Keep the Police Away?

Alex Adams and Lucy Powers

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With COVID-19 running rampant through the United States, it begs the question: how should

the law respond to possibly COVID-positive suspects? Daniel Prude was killed, in part, for spitting at police officers when he said he was positive for COVID. Yet many other, average

Americans refuse to wear masks in our country, even if they’ve tested positive for the disease.

Historically, the US made laws and created police practices against the transfer of HIV/AIDS; we will explore how this historical scenario played out, and we hope to see what is different about COVID and about today.

Further Reading

Heller, Jacob. “Rumors and Realities: Making Sense of HIV/AIDS Conspiracy Narratives and Contemporary Legends.” American Journal of Public Health 105, no. 1 (January 2015): 43-50.

Lazzarini, Zita, Sarah Bray, and Scott Burns. “Evaluating the Impact of Criminal Laws on HIV Risk Behavior.” The Journal of Law, Medicine, & Ethics 30, no. 2 (June 2002): 239-253.

Roth, Jenny and Chris Sanders. “‘Incorrigible slag,’ the case of Jennifer Murphy’s HIV

non-disclosure: Gender norm policing and the production of gender-class-race categories

in Canadian news coverage.” Women’s Studies International Forum 68 (May 2018): 113-

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. “HIV and STD Criminal Laws.” HIV. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last reviewed August 21, 2020. policies/law/states/exposure.html


Kara Square. “Where the Moon Shines Bright.” CCMixter. Uploaded September 13, 2020.

Whitewolf. “Social Distancing (Extended Mix) (w/ Darkroom).” CCMixter. Uploaded April 4, 2020.