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Understanding the impact of criminalising HIV transmission. Christoforos Mallouris Director of Programmes. What is Criminalisation of HIV transmission. Recent increase in number of countries where the transmission of HIV is a criminal offence Laws can take many forms: Transmission Exposure
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Understanding the impact of criminalising HIV transmission Christoforos Mallouris Director of Programmes XVII IAC, Mexico City
What is Criminalisation of HIV transmission XVII IAC, Mexico City Recent increase in number of countries where the transmission of HIV is a criminal offence Laws can take many forms: Transmission Exposure Specific HIV laws Other laws (murder, manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, sodomy laws, etc.)
Criminalisation laws (continued) XVII IAC, Mexico City Require PLHIV (who know their serostatus) to inform any sexual contact in advance, forcing disclosure Some laws include pregnant HIV-positive women Very little mention is made about PLHIV who use precautions (regardless of disclosure)
Criminalisation laws (continued) XVII IAC, Mexico City “Criminalisation is a failure to protect the dignity of people living with HIV. This is discrimination on the basis of disease. Nothing like this exists for people living with hepatitis or TB.” ICW member, LIVNG 2008 pre-consultations
Criminalisation laws (continued) XVII IAC, Mexico City Proving causality (is it always possible to prove who has passed the virus on to whom?) Proving intent (difficult to define the line between intentional and non-intentional) Risk persecution when serostatus not known Forces disclosure (even in safer sex)
Impact on PLHIV and responses to HIV and AIDS XVII IAC, Mexico City Places the blame on one person (the person with HIV) for the transmission of HIV Controls individual and intimate behaviour Increases stigma against PLHIV Assumes PLHIV intend to transmit HIV Assumes PLHIV always have the power to negotiate safer sex
Impact on PLHIV and responses to HIV and AIDS XVII IAC, Mexico City It shifts from rights-based approaches of empowering individuals to build the skills and knowledge to practice safer sex Discourages people from testing (fear of being penalised) Promotes fear of having a sex life amongst PLHIV Exacerbates vulnerability of key populations
LIVING 2008The Positive Leadership Summit XVII IAC, Mexico City Criminalisation laws are counterproductive Singling out HIV transmission and putting it into policy will not result in prevention HIV prevention is a shared responsibility
LIVING 2008The Positive Leadership Summit XVII IAC, Mexico City Malevolent and intentional infection should be persecuted In an ideal world there would be no criminalisation of HIV transmission laws In reality, we may not be able to revoke all criminalisation laws Need to use evidence-based advocacy and work together with policy makers, media, criminal justice system, medical specialists, etc.
LIVING 2008The Positive Leadership Summit XVII IAC, Mexico City Education for criminal justice system Education for the media Raise awareness among PLHIV of their rights and the laws where they reside Build the evidence on existing cases (e.g., criminalisation scan, stigma index) Build the evidence on impact of criminalisation laws PLHIV networks as important partners!
THANK YOU XVII IAC, Mexico City firstname.lastname@example.org www.gnpplus.net