The Stream

Criminalising HIV

Advocates urge lawmakers worldwide to rethink legislation that makes being HIV positive a crime.

In some US states, there are laws that allow for people living with HIV to be criminally charged for spitting on or biting another person. An HIV positive person could also end up serving a lengthy prison sentence for not disclosing their status before having sex or sharing needles. And, in more than 50 countries, people can be prosecuted for unintentional transmission or exposing others to the virus.

Some of these laws came in response to the 1980s HIV/AIDS crisis – a time when there was limited information about the virus and a diagnosis was considered a death sentence. More than three decades later, medical research has been able to dispel misinformation and fight stigma. But many countries are still enforcing criminal statutes authorities say will help curtail the spread of the virus.

With the message of #HIVisNotACrime, international advocates and some politicans are calling on governments worldwide to rethink what they say are fear-based and outdated laws they believe are doing more harm than good. HIV advocates join us to discuss how the criminalisation of HIV is impacting those living with the virus. 

On this episode of The Stream, we speak to:

Ken Pinkela @kenpinkela
HIV Advocate 

Edwin Bernard @HIVJusticeNet
Global Coordinator, HIV Justice Network

Michaela Clayton @michaelaarasa
Director, AIDS & Rights Alliance for Southern Africa

Anand Grover
Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.