HIV exposure law unjustly applies sex offender status, advocates say

As the deadline loomed for Aaliyah to send out notices of her sex-offender status, she had two choices.

She could stay at Covenant House with a roof over her head and a structured environment geared toward helping her turn her life around. But if she couldn't find the $1,200 to pay for the notices, she could be sent to prison.

If she left, Aaliyah would have to couch surf or find some rent money, but it would reset the 21-day notification clock, putting off the threat of jail for another few weeks.

She chose to leave.

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Practical problems: Rethink mandatory HIV testing of pregnant women

Testing pregnant women for HIV regardless of their consent involves ethical and legal issues. In developed countries it is voluntary. The test, made mandatory for pregnant women in India in 2009, was never implemented on the scale required. Now, to simplify the process the government has amended the guidelines by making verbal consent sufficient for screening pregnant women's HIV status. Instead of giving impetus to awareness programmes and preventive measures to check HIV/ AIDS, taking human rights of the female population for a ride, which has barely 65 per cent literacy rate, cannot be applauded unreservedly even if backed by the good intent of reducing occurrence of HIV in the newborn.

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HIV law: It's time for a change

Criminal charges against a Sydney man relating to his alleged infection of a former partner with HIV hit the headlines in early January. Disturbingly, one major newspaper published the man's name and a photo lifted from his social media page.

Criminalising HIV discourages testing, encourages anonymous sex, and leads to increased HIV-related discrimination and stigma. None support public health efforts to end HIV infection.

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With #EndBadHIVLaws, Campaign Uses Social Media to Combat HIV Criminalization

By Althea Fung

In the years since social media was introduced, the world has vastly changed. Often social media is chided as a vehicle that limits actual human interaction, a forum that spreads ignorance and generally unsavory opinions, and a place that ruins friendships, marriages and families. But in actuality, social media is a tool. Like a hammer, it can be used to break things apart or to build them.

Recently, several HIV and LGBT groups joined together to use the reach of social media to spread knowledge and spur action on a serious legal problem -- the criminalization of HIV -- with the hashtag #EndBadHIVLaws.

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Kenyan Advocates Speak Out on HIV, Human Rights and Treatment Access for Gay Men, Other MSM

The International Conference on AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Africa (ICASO) was held in Harare, Zimbabwe, from Nov. 27 to Dec. 4, 2015. The conference, which was shaped by the powerful presence of LGBTI communities from across sub-Saharan Africa, followed the launch of new international guidelines recommending that people with HIV be immediately offered treatment upon diagnosis.

On behalf of TheBody.com, Maureen Milanga, Health GAP's national organizer in Kenya, asked three advocates from ISHTAR-MSM, an Kenyan organization that works with men who have sex with men (MSM), to talk about their work and experiences at ICASO. This is a lightly edited version of collaborative responses from ISHTAR's executive director Peter Njane, clinical officer Macland Njagi and board member Ruth Njambi Kimani.

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