The American Psychological Association (APA) has adopted an evidence-informed resolution on HIV criminalisation in the United States.
It was developed with feedback from the APA Committee on Legal Issues and the HIV Medicine Association – who themselves issued a Policy Statement on HIV Criminalization in 2015 – along with the Sero Project and The Center for HIV Law and Policy.
According to the background document:
We believe an APA resolution will strongly encourage states with HIV criminalization laws to repeal such laws and provide psychologists practicing in relevant states with guidance on the impact that HIV-specific laws may have on their patients, clients, and the general public’s health.
The resolution, adopted by the Council of Representatives in February 2016 and published on March 15th, can be read in full on the APA website.
It includes the following key messages:
THEREFORE be it resolved that APA opposes HIV criminalization and recommends the repeal or reform of these laws to eliminate HIV-specific criminal penalties with the exceptions of 1) a person with known HIV committing a sex crime where there is risk of transmission, and 2) a person with known HIV who has the intent to transmit the virus and is engaged in a behavior with a high risk of transmission;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that laws that are not in alignment with the current scientific evidence on HIV transmission should be repealed;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that laws that criminalize behaviors posing low or negligible risk for HIV transmission should be repealed or reformed and better aligned with contemporary scientific evidence regarding HIV transmission probabilities for specific behaviors and the efficacy of risk-reduction activities (e.g., consistent condom use);
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that laws that target PLHIV and engender harsher sentencing should be repealed;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that laws that increase likelihood of incarceration for PLHIV should be repealed;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that laws that undermine national HIV prevention efforts should be repealed;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that criminalization laws that increase the risk of and intimate partner violence to, and control of women and other vulnerable people with HIV should be repealed;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that laws that specifically target and criminalize PLHIV should be repealed;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that laws that discriminate and stigmatize against PLHIV should be repealed;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that psychologists practicing in states with HIV-specific criminalization laws are encouraged to better understand the impact of these laws on their patients who have HIV or who may be at elevated risk for HIV infection.