HIV criminalisation a setback to regional AIDS efforts

Johannesburg - The criminalisation of HIV simply undermines the remarkable global scientific advances and proven public health strategies that could open the path to vanquishing AIDS by 2030, Patrick Eba from the human rights and law division of UNAIDS told SADC-PF parliamentarians meeting in South Africa.

Restating a remark made by Justice Edwin Cameron of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Eba said: "HIV criminalisation makes it more difficult for those at risk of HIV to access testing and prevention. There is simply no evidence that it works. It undermines the remarkable scientific advances and proven public health strategies that open the path to vanquishing AIDS by 2030."

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New report shows HIV criminalisation is a growing, global concern but advocates are fighting back

A new report released today shows that HIV criminalisation is a growing, global phenomenon. However, advocates around the world are working hard to ensure that the criminal law's approach to people living with HIV fits with up-to-date science, as well as key legal and human rights principles.

What do we mean by 'HIV criminalisation'?

HIV criminalisation describes the unjust application of the criminal law to people living with HIV based solely on their HIV status – either via HIV-specific criminal statutes, or by applying general criminal laws that allow for prosecution of unintentional HIV transmission, potential or perceived exposure to HIV where HIV was not transmitted, and/or non-disclosure of known HIV-positive status.

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PRESS STATEMENT: UNAIDS welcomes landmark decision by Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court prohibiting HIV discrimination

COLOMBO, 2 May 2016—The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) welcomes a decision by Sri Lanka's Supreme Court to prohibit HIV discrimination in education settings.

The country's highest court issued the directive in response to a fundamental rights violation petition filed by Chandani De Soysa, who is from the rural community of Illukhena, Kuliyapitiya in Western Sri Lanka. Ms De Soysa became a widow last year. When she tried to enrol her five-year old son in the local school he was denied admission because he was believed to be living with HIV.

With support from UNAIDS and the Positive Women's Network, Ms De Soysa filed her petition with the Supreme Court in February. The court's directive which was released on 28 April stated that the rights to an education of children living with or affected by HIV must be upheld based on the country's constitutional directive of universal access to education for children between the ages of 5-14.

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The World Needs a Healthier, Rights-based Approach Towards People Who Use Drugs

Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS

The world is failing to protect the health and human rights of people who use drugs.

As a result, people who use drugs, especially people who inject drugs, have been isolated and denied the means to protect themselves from HIV, hepatitis C, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.

Among the estimated 12 million people who inject drugs globally, one in 10 is living with HIV. From 2010 to 2014, there was no decline in the annual number of new HIV infections among people who inject drugs, in contrast to the global trend of declining new HIV infections.

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Together we *can* make HIV justice worldwide a reality, by Edwin J Bernard

Two weeks ago, thanks to generous funding for 2016-18 from the Robert Carr civil society Networks Fund, a group of committed activists from all over the world came together in Brighton, the home of the HIV Justice Network, so we could strategise how to work closer together in order to end HIV criminalisation.

It’s been a long journey to get to this point.  I first started writing about HIV criminalisation in 2003 when, in my first months as editor of NAM’s AIDS Treatment Update, we had our first prosecutions in England and Wales for ‘reckless’ HIV transmission.

After writing my first book on the subject for NAM in 2007 – Criminal HIV Transmission, which aimed to educate the criminal justice system about the latest medical and social science developments relating to HIV – I began a blog of the same name which, almost by accident, became a global de facto information and advocacy hub.

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