Back HIV Policy & Advocacy UNAIDS, Advocates Publish HIV Criminalization Reports; Webinar June 25

UNAIDS, Advocates Publish HIV Criminalization Reports; Webinar June 25


UNAIDS last month released a report on ending overly broad criminalization of HIV exposure and non-intentional transmission, emphasizing that laws should reflect the latest science. International advocates released their own report on HIV criminalization in early June, and the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance (HIVPJA) will hold a webinar on Tuesday, June 25, to strategize about the REPEAL HIV Criminalization Act.

The UNAIDS report offers detailed guidance for limiting the "overly broad use of criminal laws to regulate and punish people living with HIV who are accused of HIV non-disclosure, exposure, and/or transmission," the HIV Justice Network reports

"[T]he overly broad criminalization of HIV non-disclosure, exposure, and transmission at best indicates a lack of understanding of the science of HIV, at worst comprises an expression of discrimination against people living with HIV," said UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibé. "Such overly broad laws not only lead to miscarriages of justice, but also threaten our efforts to address HIV in an effective and rights-based manner."

The new guidance is in line with a 2008 UNAIDS/UNDP policy brief and follows recommendations of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law to limit theapplication of criminal law to cases of knowing and intentional transmission, according to the HIV Justice Network.

Rather than routinely relying on the criminal justice system, efforts should focus on "expanding the use of proven and successful evidence-informed and rights-based public health approaches to HIV prevention, treatment and care, and limit any application of criminal law to truly blameworthy cases where it is needed to achieve justice," the report recommends.

The full UNAIDS report is available online.

Advancing HIV Justice

The Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) and HIV Justice Network released their own report the following month, entitled "Advancing HIV Justice: A Progress Report of Achievements and Challenges in Global Advocacy Against HIV Criminalisation." This report is also available online.

The report shows that advocacy to repeal or otherwise limit laws that inappropriately punish people with HIV "have achieved considerable success," according to recent GNP+ press release. "This is especially the case when policymakers or criminal justice system actors are open to learning more about scientific and medical advances in HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support, and involve civil society -- led by people living with HIV -- to ensure that critical criminal law and human rights principles are followed."

"Despite the many incremental successes of the past 18 months, more work and more funding is required to strengthen advocacy capacity," said HIV Justice Network coordinator and report co-author Edwin J. Bernard. "Development of strategies against HIV criminalization relevant to each individual jurisdiction requires time, effort, and the involvement of multidisciplinary experts."


In the U.S., Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)have introduced the REPEAL (Repeal Existing Policies that Encourage and Allow Legal) HIV Criminalization Act, which would require a review of all federal and state laws, policies, and regulations regarding the criminal prosecution of individuals for HIV-related offenses.

HIVPJA will host a webinar with advocates and policymakerson June 25, at noon Pacific time, to share tactics and strategies for community advocacy to advance the REPEAL HIV Criminalization Act this summer.

Visit HIVPJA's web site for further information.



UNAIDS. Ending overly broad criminalisation of HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission: Critical scientific, medical and legal considerations. Guidance notes. May 2013.

Global Network of People Living with HIV and HIV Justice Network. Advancing HIV Justice: A progress report of achievements and challenges in global advocacy against HIV criminalization. Report. June 2013.

Other Sources

HIV Justice Network. UNAIDS Publishes Updated, Detailed Guidance on HIV Criminalization. HIV Justice Network blog. May 28, 2013.

Global Network of People Living with HIV. GNP+ and the HIV Justice Network: Advancing HIV Justice, A Progress Report of Achievements and Challenges in Global Advocacy Against HIV Criminalisation. Press release. June 5, 2013.

HIV Prevention Justice Alliance. 6/25 Webinar: The REPEAL Act -- How We Can End HIV Criminalization Together. HIVPJA blog. June 6, 2013.