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Russia: 29-year-old man in penal colony charged for alleged HIV transmission

In the Kama region, a man intentionally infected his wife with HIV
January 23, 2020

Published in Progorod / ПРОГОРОД on January 22, 2020. Automatic translation via Deepl.com. For original article in Russian, please scroll down.

In the Kama region, a man intentionally infected his wife with HIV.

The offender knew about his illness.
In the Kama region, a man will be tried for having infected his wife with HIV, knowing in advance about his disease.

In the Kama region, the investigation of a 29-year-old citizen has been completed. The criminal case was opened under the article: “Infection of another person with HIV infection by a person who knew he had this disease”.

In 2018, the accused, while in a penal colony, got married. He did not warn his wife that he had a dangerous disease, although the investigation found that in 2012 he was informed about the discovery of HIV infection in his body, and he was immediately warned of criminal responsibility for putting another person in danger of infection.

A year and a half later, the wife of the accused went to the hospital because she was not feeling well. Having passed all the tests, she learned the terrible truth – the virus of human immunodeficiency was found in her organism.

The criminal case has been brought to court.


В Прикамье мужчина умышленно заразил супругу ВИЧ-инфекцией

Преступник знал о своем заболевании
В Прикамье мужчину будут судить за то, что он заразил свою супругу ВИЧ-инфекцией, зная заранее о своем заболевании.

В Прикамье завершилось следствие над 29-летним гражданином. Уголовное дело было заведено по статье: «Заражение другого лица ВИЧ-инфекцией лицом, знавшим о наличии у него этой болезни».

В 2018 году обвиняемый, находясь в исправительной колонии, женился. Свою супругу он не предупредил о том, что у него есть опасное заболевание, хотя следствие установило, что в 2012 году он был поставлен в известность об обнаружении в его организме ВИЧ-инфекции, и его сразу же предупредили об уголовной ответственности за поставление другого лица в опасность заражения.

Через полтора года жена обвиняемого обратилась в больницу из-за плохого самочувствия. Сдав все анализы, она узнала страшную правду – в ее организме обнаружили вирус иммунодефицита человека.

Уголовное дело передано в суд.

South Africa: Former Constitutional Court Judge Edwin Cameron talks about his life, HIV and the Law

Books Judge Edwin Cameron on HIV, justice and attacks on the judiciary
January 23, 2020

Published in City Press, on January 22, 2020

Judge Edwin Cameron on HIV, justice and attacks on the judiciary

Former Constitutional Court Judge Edwin Cameron, whether intentionally or not, has always been an activist. He talks to Manosa Nthunya about his writing life.

In South Africa, we are increasingly becoming accustomed to the fact that from time to time a judge, particularly from the Constitutional Court, will, to our delight, pen a book.

Since our transition into democracy, some of the judges who have written books, mostly memoirs, include Albie Sachs, Dikgang Moseneke and Edwin Cameron.

All their books are reflections on the law and its role in our nascent democracy.

Because of our history, these memoirs are reflections of the role the law has played in the individual lives of these judges growing up under apartheid.

It is in this way that for us as readers the law comes alive, as it is presented as not only an abstract entity but something that always has a profound effect on lives.

Judge Cameron, who retired from his position as Constitutional Court justice last year, has written two personal memoirs which have both received acclaim.

His first memoir, Witness to Aids, was published in 2005 and his second, Justice: A Personal Account, in 2014.

Both books chronicle his life, beginning under apartheid and into post-apartheid, and interrogate what the law means in the context of a society where it was used to catastrophic ends.

When I met Cameron to discuss his writing life, I was most interested in what it was that compelled him to write, particularly because there seems to be an expectation in our society that the less it is known about a judges’ life and thinking, the better we can trust in the independence and fairness of their judgments.

When I ask him why it is that he writes, he responds that with his first book his reasons were to “make a point about white privilege, about homosexuality and about HIV”.

With his second book, “my aim was to show the law as an oppressor, as the imprisoner of my father, as something that should be applied to social justice ends”.

Witness to Aids is a book, as the title suggests, that looks at the impact that HIV/Aids has had in South Africa.

It’s a book that tells the story of the disease from a deeply personal perspective.

INFECTED WITH THE VIRUS

Cameron writes in the introduction: “I knew that I had Aids when I could no longer climb the stairs from the judges’ common room in the high court to my chambers, two floors above.”

He goes on to tell his story of being infected with HIV and how that dramatically changed his life.

Having been infected with the virus during the heady days of apartheid, Cameron’s book explores the shame that was – and still is – attached to the virus and how this was exacerbated by his sexuality.

This is an experience, he tells me, that has greatly shaped him.

Even though Cameron’s career as a lawyer and eventually a judge was taking off, he writes that having HIV was a huge blow to how he thought his life would turn out as “the other part of my life was washing away beneath my feet, eroded by microbes and attacked by fungi coursing through my veins and wasting my muscles and bodily reserves, leaving me tired and panicked and isolated in the waiting room”.

Having heard people say that they would kill themselves if they found out they were HIV-positive, he found that he “wanted to keep on living. I wanted my health back, urgently. I wanted to breathe easily, freely, again.”

While Witness to Aids is about Cameron’s battle with the disease, it is also a story about the tragic politics of HIV/Aids in South Africa.

He tells me that this was a very difficult book for him to write: “The first book was agony. Every word was anguish. Writing about stigma, infection, recovering from it.

“Writing about the horror of [former president] Thabo Mbeki’s denialism was very painful. I was under attack by a man named Ronald Suresh Roberts, who should remain nameless.”

And the book does – more so than any popular book I can think of – go into detail about the consequences of Aids denialism in South Africa. What created this, he writes in the book, was “the inauguration of Mbeki’s Aids Advisory Panel in 2000”, which “initiated three years of tragic confusion in South African governmental approaches to Aids”.

This is partly why Cameron became an activist for issues related to HIV/Aids.

Rereading the book now, one realises how far we have come as a country with regard to the disease and the despair that was ever-present at that time.

Some of the most moving words that speak to this despair are when Cameron writes: “We cannot allow our grief and our bereavement to inflict a further loss upon us – the loss of our own full humanity, our capacity to feel and respond and support. We must incorporate our grief into our everyday living by turning it into energy for living, by exerting ourselves as never before.”

What made it possible to challenge government was a ruling by the Constitutional Court that the state was compelled to offer antiretrovirals.

In many ways, the story of HIV/Aids in South Africa is a story which, although tragic, bears witness to the importance and strength of living in a constitutional democracy.

It is testament to what is possible when a country has an independent judiciary and a government that respects the judgments of the courts – as was the case, as Cameron writes, under Mbeki’s presidency.

It is in Cameron’s second book that the importance of a constitutional democracy is interrogated more deeply.

In the context of South Africa this is not an easy examination, as the courts have more often than some would wish come under heavy criticism from politicians and, of late, the public through social media.

Cameron writes that the book is about “our country’s most inspiring and hopeful feature – its big-spirited, visionary Constitution. And it tells the story of my journey from poverty-stricken childhood to becoming a lawyer and eventually a justice in the country’s highest court, which has the duty to interpret and guard that Constitution.”

I put it to him that what struck me while rereading his book was how he seemed to have written a biography of the law.

The ways in which the law, like a human being, is under constant change and how in that consistent metamorphosis it can be perceived as either nefarious or necessary.

Thus, even though the story of apartheid that he tells in the book is one about the tragic uses of the law, there is also a sense that the law is not something stable and fixed, that it depends on who is making use of it.

In the book he writes: “What fascinated me was that the law, apartheid’s oppressive instrument, could also be employed against apartheid. It could be used occasionally to mitigate its effects. Properly employed, it could be used to repair and not to break down or damage.”

What Cameron provides here is a picture of the law that is very much with us in post-apartheid South Africa.

Even though the sense, for most, is that the law should be used to respond adequately to our history, there are also those who are intent on abusing it to further their ambitions.

What this reveals to us as the public is that the law is, in fact, a fragile entity, solely reliant on the motives of those who are in control of it.

In Justice: A Personal Account, we are taken into Cameron’s childhood in an orphanage and how he became interested in law.

Even though he grew up poor in apartheid South Africa, he was nevertheless acutely aware of the fact that being white meant that he had privileges which other racial groups could not have.

“My whiteness bought me the privileges that apartheid was designed to secure for whites. It secured for me access to a first-rate high school and an excellent university. These opened the way for me to get a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, and to start my legal career,” Cameron writes.

It is precisely these privileges which he believes South Africa’s democratic Constitution is called on to address, about which he writes: “Our Constitution seeks to offer this generosity and support justly to all. It gives us a framework for a society in which mutual support and generosity are key. And it obliges government, on behalf of all of us, to create a society in which all of us can live in dignity.”

ATTACKS ON THE JUDICIARY

I find it unavoidable to ask him about his reflections on the latest, as we are told, “attacks” the judiciary.

What does he make of them and are they justified?

He responds saying that precisely because South Africa’s transition was legal-centric, it is unavoidable that the judiciary will, from time to time, receive criticism.

At the time he wrote his second book, he says, “the Constitution was under credible and warranted scrutiny”.

What he was saying in the book was that, despite the criticisms the Constitution has received, it has survived, revealing its strength.

Recently, “the particular criticism has come from the EFF, when they got a number of judgments which were adverse to them and [Mbuyiseni] Ndlozi made personal comments about the judge and he referred to the two judges’ genders”, something which Cameron says he found worrying. This was a consequence of a judgment that involved Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, where the majority of judges found that she had been dishonest and legally incompetent.

Cameron tells me that, despite the fact that the Constitution has shown its resilience, there was a time in our recent history when our democracy was under threat.

He says it was with the help of the Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela that we survived.

“If I had to nominate two people that have saved our democracy I would nominate Mogoeng and Madonsela. They have played pivotal roles in salvaging democracy from total ruin.”

I ask what advice he would give to young authors, be it in law or otherwise.

“It starts with a message. In Witness to Aids I was trying to talk about how HIV is a manageable but highly stigmatised disease. In Justice: A Personal Account it was [about] a Constitution under threat. For me it starts with a message and the rest flows from that.”

And when I ask what it is that keeps him going, Cameron says: “The young law students are the reason to keep going. Outstanding young South Africans who have a sense of vision about what the law can do and about how the courts should operate. It’s the reason to keep going and not to fall into some kind of pessimism or despair.”

Nthunya is a PhD candidate in literature at Wits University. He studied literature, history and philosophy at Rhodes University

France: HIV organisations mobilise to halt sensationalism of news coverage in police violence case

Spit and HIV: the violence of words
January 23, 2020

Published in Seronet on January 22, 2020 – Automatic translation via Deepl.com. For original article in French, please scroll down.

Spit and HIV: the violence of words

Following the release of an amateur video in which a police officer stopped and violently beat a demonstrator, a spokesperson for the police union Alliance, in defence of the officer involved, claimed that the person stopped spat blood in the officer’s face and said, “I have AIDS, you’re going to die. Since then, the victim has denied living with HIV and having threatened the police officers with “contamination” by spitting on them.

The case has swelled up in some media outlets, which have taken up the police unionist’s explanations without deflating the sensationalism surrounding the “danger” of spitting on an HIV-positive person.

Faced with this, many of his AIDS activists and associations of people living with HIV intervened to put the facts in their place, regardless of the position of responsibility that existed during the arrest. “The rapidity of news coverage regularly implies approximations or, worse, leaving room for false beliefs. This is particularly true with regard to HIV/AIDS. But to allow false ideas to be conveyed is to feed the serophobia that plays into the hands of the epidemic,” explains AIDES in its press release published in emergency on 20 January.

On Twitter, the president of Act Up-Paris, Marc-Antoine Bartoli, is moved and says that “aggression or “the attack on AIDS does not exist”. A few weeks ago Act Up New York had to deal with a similar case. It is important to remember that people who test positive for HIV have access to treatment that makes their viral load undetectable and cannot transmit HIV. First fact. The second is that, first and foremost, “the modes of contamination are sexual secretions, breast milk, blood. Saliva does not transmit HIV. Moreover, HIV has very low resistance to the open air. After five to ten seconds in the open air, a drop of blood no longer contains the virus,” AIDES recalls.

These simple indications would have deflated a Serophobic line of defence from the outset, continuing to play on irrational fears. “It is everyone’s responsibility to recall this information as soon as necessary. Without this, stigmatization and false beliefs will not be able to stop,” continues AIDES. And the media have their role to play in informing. This is what Fred Colby, a gay activist who is openly HIV-positive and committed to AIDES, is calling for: “People living with HIV are not walking viruses. People living with HIV are not walking viruses. The media needs to think before they publish this kind of thing or qualify it by talking about treatment and undetectable viral load. Without this prerequisite, this spitting case is likely to come back in the news, without any lessons being learned from the previous one. Again to the detriment of HIV-positive people.


Crachat et VIH : la violence des maux

À la suite de la diffusion d’une vidéo amateur, dans laquelle un policier interpelle et frappe violemment un manifestant, le porte-parole du syndicat de policiers Alliance affirmait, pour la défense de l’officier mis en cause, que la personne interpellée aurait craché du sang au visage du policier en disant : « J’ai le sida, tu vas crever ». Depuis, la victime réfute vivre avec le VIH et avoir menacé les policiers de « contamination » en leur crachant dessus. L’affaire a enflé dans certains médias, qui ont repris à leur compte les explications du syndicaliste de la police, sans pour autant dégonfler le sensationnalisme autour du « danger » d’un crachat d’une personne séropositive au VIH. Face à cela, de nombreux-ses militants-es de la lutte contre le sida et des associations de personnes vivant avec sont intervenus pour remettre les faits à leur place, peu importe la position sur les responsabilités en cours durant l’arrestation. « La rapidité de traitement de l’actualité implique régulièrement des approximations ou pire, de laisser la place à de fausses croyances. C’est particulièrement vrai concernant le VIH/sida. Or, laissez véhiculer de fausses idées, c’est nourrir la sérophobie qui fait le jeu de l’épidémie », explique AIDES dans son communiqué publié en urgence, le 20 janvier. Sur Twitter, le président d’Act Up-Paris, Marc-Antoine Bartoli, s’émeut et indique que « l’agression ou « l’attaque au sida n’existe pas ». Il y a quelques semaines Act up New-York a eu à faire à un cas similaire. Il est important de rappeler que les personnes dépistées séropositives ont accès à un traitement qui rend leur charge virale indétectable et ne peuvent pas transmette le VIH. Premier fait. Le second, c’est qu’avant toute chose, « les modes de contamination sont les sécrétions sexuelles, le lait maternel, le sang. La salive ne transmet pas le VIH. De plus, le VIH a une très faible résistance à l’air libre. Après cinq à dix secondes à l’air libre, une goutte de sang ne contient plus de virus », rappelle AIDES. Ces simples indications auraient permis de dégonfler d’emblée une ligne de défense sérophobe, continuant de jouer sur les peurs irrationnelles. « Il est de la responsabilité de toutes et tous de rappeler dès que nécessaires ces informations. Sans cela, les stigmatisations et fausses croyances ne pourront pas cesser », continue AIDES. Et les médias ont leur rôle d’information à jouer. C’est ce que réclame Fred Colby, activiste gay, ouvertement séropositif et engagé à AIDES: « Les personnes vivant avec le VIH ne sont pas des virus ambulants. Il faut que les médias réfléchissent avant de publier ce genre de choses ou nuancent en parlant du traitement et de la charge virale indétectable ». Sans ce préalable, cette affaire du crachat risque de revenir dans l’actualité, sans qu’aucune leçon ne soit tirée de la précédente. Au détriment, encore, des personnes séropositives.

India: 38-year-old man reports his wife and in-laws to the police for alleged HIV non-disclosure

Man accuses wife of hiding HIV status before marriage
January 23, 2020

Published in the Decan Herald on January 22, 2020

Man accuses wife of hiding HIV status before marriage

A 38-year-old man filed a complaint against his wife and in-laws after learning that she was infected with HIV before marriage and had concealed it from him all this while.

When she discovered that he learnt about her condition, his wife ran away with all the valuables. Following a complaint, the Chamarajpet police have registered a case against his wife and her parents, and booked them under Section 270 ((spreading infection dangerous to life) and cheating.

Deepak K (name changed) stated in his complaint that he married the woman on April 18, 2018, and lived with her in Chamarajpet. Two months after the wedding, his wife developed fever, cough and cold. He took her to hospital, where her blood sample taken for testing. Reports showed she had HIV I and II infections

Unable to believe the results, Deepak took her for tests in other hospitals but got the same results. Despite knowing that the deadly infection could be passed on to others, the woman did not inform him about her HIV status, he said in the complaint.

He further said that the woman, having discovered that he learnt about her HIV status, took all the valuables from the house and fled. He sought action against her parents and relatives, who allowed the marriage to take place by concealing the woman’ health condition. 

Russia: Mandatory testing proposed for citizens aged 15 to 55 in regions with high HIV prevalence

Ministry of Health intends to introduce mandatory HIV testing for citizens aged 15 to 55
January 18, 2020

Published on Vademecum, January 17, 2020 – Automatic translation via deepl.com. For Russian article, please scroll down.

Ministry of Health intends to introduce mandatory HIV testing for citizens aged 15 to 55

In January 2019, the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation published a draft Procedure for the provision of medical care to HIV-infected patients. The document, in case of entry into force, will repeal the relevant recommendations of 2012.

According to the draft document, the agency proposes to conduct rapid testing of citizens aged 15 to 55 years living in regions where more than 1% of pregnant women are HIV-infected. Whereas, according to the current regulations, testing for HIV antibodies is voluntary, HIV tests for representatives of certain specialties are mandatory.The updated document also proposes to conduct rapid screening tests for all persons who have reported contact with people with HIV, are at risk or are undergoing a sexually transmitted disease test.In addition, the draft Procedure provides for the provision of medical care to HIV-positive patients through telemedical technologies.

In 2016, the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation joined the UNAIDS global strategy, the essence of which was to diagnose 90% of HIV-positive people, 90% of whom should receive therapy and 90% of whom should have an undefined viral load as a result.

In 2019, 714,000 people with a diagnosis of HIV were registered with the Russian dispensary, of whom 60-70% received therapy and no information on its effectiveness is publicly available. The total number of HIV-positive Russians, according to various estimates, can range from 1 to 1.3 million people.


МИНЗДРАВ НАМЕРЕН ВВЕСТИ ОБЯЗАТЕЛЬНОЕ ТЕСТИРОВАНИЕ НА ВИЧ-ИНФЕКЦИЮ ДЛЯ ГРАЖДАН В ВОЗРАСТЕ ОТ 15 ДО 55 ЛЕТ

Минздрав РФ в январе 2019 года опубликовал проект Порядка оказания медицинской помощи ВИЧ-инфицированным пациентам. Документ, в случае вступления в силу, отменит действие профильных рекомендаций от 2012 года.

Согласно проекту документа, ведомство предлагает в обязательном порядке проводить экспресс-тестирование граждан в возрасте от 15 до 55 лет, проживающих в регионах, в которых более 1% беременных женщин ВИЧ-инфицированы. Тогда как, согласно действующему регламенту, исследование на антитела к ВИЧ носит добровольный характер, обязательными же являются тесты на ВИЧ для представителей отдельных специальностей.

Обновленным документом также предлагается проводить скрининговое экспресс-тестирование всем лицам, сообщившим о контакте с ВИЧ-инфицированными, находящимися в группе риска или проходящими исследование на венерические заболевания.

Кроме того, проект Порядка предусматривает оказание медицинской помощи ВИЧ-положительным пациентам с помощью телемедицинских технологий.

В 2016 году Минздрав РФ присоединился к глобальной стратегии ЮНЭЙДС, суть которой сводилась к охвату диагностикой 90% ВИЧ-инфицированных, из которых 90% должны получать терапию, а 90% из них – иметь в результате неопределяемую вирусную нагрузку.

В 2019 году на диспансерном учете в России состояли 714 тысяч человек с диагнозом ВИЧ, из них терапию получали 60–70%, а сведений о ее эффективности в открытых источниках не содержится. Общее число ВИЧ-положительных россиян, по разным оценкам, может составлять от 1 до 1,3 млн человек.

China: Sentence for man accused of biting officer extended from 15 days to one year because of his HIV status

HIV Carrier Bites Eviction Officer; Sentenced to 1 Year in Jail
January 18, 2020

Published in the Nanjinger on January 17, 2020

The HIV-positive illegal occupant who bit an eviction officer in Nanjing last summer has received a 1-year sentence for obstructing official duties. The case may have this week come to end, but it is not without the threat of its return. It was on 17 June when officers from the Nanjing Yuhuatai District Court visited the illegally-occupied property to carry out a forced eviction. They encountered violent resistance in attempting the eviction, during which officer Liu Fuqing (刘福清) was bitten by Song Mouyu (宋某雨). In the immediate aftermath, Song claimed to be HIV positive. The crowd gathered immediately panicked.

Upon investigation, it emerged that Song was diagnosed as HIV positive in October, 2016. He is undergoing long-term treatment for the condition.

The 5-Day Fear of Having HIV

Liu then had to endure 5 days of waiting to find out whether he had been infected with HIV. After the test results returned negative, to be on the safe side, the doctor also prescribed post-exposure prevention medicines, reported local news outlets. Several subsequent tests also came back negative, confirming that Liu was not infected.

Back at the scene, Song’s motivation for the biting was the defence of his father, who was being restrained after striking a representative of the building owner.

The court initially sentenced both father and son to 15 days judicial detention. However, given that Song was wittingly HIV positive, but still deliberately chose to bite another human, his sentence was extended to 1 year.

It is thought that the court chose its ruling as the obstruction of official duties in case of a retrial, should Liu become infected with HIV at a later date. The HIV incubation period is up to 20 years, and Liu shall require regular inspections in the future. Should this happen, Song could be tried for deliberately infecting someone with HIV.

With the assistance of a notary, the illegal occupants of the building are now set to leave. The court declared the case closed on 9 January.

Russia: 21-year-old man charged with alleged HIV transmission

The court will consider the case of a young Sakhalin resident who has infected a minor with HIV
January 17, 2020

Source: ASTV.ru, January 16, 2020 – Automatic translation from Deepl.com. For article in Russian, please scroll down.

The court will consider the case of a young Sakhalin resident who has infected a minor with HIV

The investigation of the criminal case against a 21-year-old resident of Korsakov has been completed. He is charged with HIV infection of a minor.

As previously reported, the suspect was infected with human immunodeficiency virus. He should have used protection during sexual intercourse, he did not do that. From April to June 2019, the guy had unprotected sex with a 16-year-old girlfriend. However, he did not warn her about his illness. As a result, the girl became infected with HIV, reported the regional investigative commission.

The investigation has collected sufficient evidence, and therefore the criminal case with the approved indictment was sent to court for consideration on the merits.


Суд рассмотрит дело молодого сахалинца, заразившего несовершеннолетнюю ВИЧ

Расследование уголовного дела завершено в отношении 21-летнего жителя Корсакова. Он обвиняется в заражении ВИЧ-инфекцией несовершеннолетней.

Как сообщалось ранее, подозреваемый был заражен вирусом иммунодефицита человека. Он должен был предохраняться при половых контактах, этого не делал. С апреля по июнь 2019 года парень вступал с 16-летней подругой в незащищенный половой акт. При этом он не предупредил ее о своем заболевании. В результате девушка заразилась ВИЧ, сообщили в областном следкоме. 

Следствием собрана достаточная доказательственная база, в связи с чем уголовное дело с утвержденным обвинительным заключением направлено в суд для рассмотрения по существу. 

Canada: Alexander McClelland’s looks at the lives of people who were criminalized due to alleged HIV non-disclosure

How HIV–positive LGBTQ2 people are criminalized in Canada
January 16, 2020

How HIV-positive LGBTQ2 people are criminalized in Canada

Three harrowing stories of HIV non-disclosure cases

From 2016 to 2019, Alexander McClelland, a researcher and Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Ottawa, spoke to 16 people across the country about their experience with Canada’s legal system and HIV non-disclosure laws. In Canada, those who do not disclose that they are HIV-positive to a sexual partner can face sexual assault charges, and if prosecuted, are mandated to appear on sexual offender registries.

Since 1989, more than 200 Canadians have been criminally prosecuted for HIV non-disclosure; in most of those cases, HIV was not transmitted, and many involve situations in which transmission was not possible—whether because their viral load was undetectable or because they used condoms. Despite reforms over the years, many HIV-positive folks remain vulnerable to criminalization.

The culmination of McClelland’s research is a new booklet, The Criminalization of HIV Non-Disclosure: Experiences of People Living with HIV in CanadaIn it, McClelland features interviews with nine Canadians who were criminalized for their HIV status. They are all recent cases, with the earliest stemming back to 2000 and the latest in 2015. Below are three of those stories.

Matteo: “They didn’t know what undetectable meant”

When I met him, Matteo was still under curfew as part of the conditions of his release. His parents were his sureties—he was mandated to live with them in the suburbs. A gay white man in his early 20s, Matteo was still in college, and only allowed out of his parents’ house to attend school for the day. He only recently found out his HIV-positive status. In fact, we met on the one-year anniversary of his diagnosis. He told me about how he had used hook-up applications like Grindr and Scruff. He met a guy that way, and they had sex.

Matteo did not tell the guy his status. He had been told by his doctor that since he was virally undetectable it was impossible for him to transmit HIV. Matteo concluded that he only had to disclose his status if there was a risk of transmission: “I thought if I was taking medication I didn’t have to disclose. Apparently, that is not the case.” A few weeks later, he was at work and the police came to arrest him. Matteo was arrested in front of his staff, coworkers and customers. “I felt really shitty, like I, like I had just robbed a liquor store,” he says. “They [the police] said, ‘You know why we are here. You are being charged and arrested.’

He ended up educating the detectives on the risk factors for transmission. Fundamentally, the police tasked with arresting Matteo did not know the current science behind the actual risks of HIV transmission. The police then released his picture, biometric details including his height, weight, eye and hair colour, any visible identifying marks, the charges filed against him, and his HIV-positive status. They also released a picture of Matteo as part of a public safety warning, asking his past sexual partners to come forward. The warning was widely covered in the media. As a result, it was also shared online, including on Facebook, targeting Matteo’s profile. One such negative post read, “If we still had the lash in Canada for punishment, this would be a case for its proper application.”

While talking at his place, Matteo told me more about what it was like to live under curfew at his parents’ house and the other conditions of his release. He felt constantly surveilled, isolated and depressed. He pulled out a piece of paper and read to me the more than 20 conditions of his release. Among the many conditions, he was barred from socializing in the gay community or going out to participate in social events. The condition that most bothered him was that he was mandated to contact authorities 24 hours before any potential sexual conduct, providing them with the name and contact information of the person. The police would then directly verify that the person knew Matteo’s HIV-positive status and that they consented to sex with him. “Like, who is going to want to do that? How am I going to meet anyone?” He felt extremely isolated and lonely.

Cynthia: “If I had not called the police, I would not have this charge hanging over my head”

I met Cynthia in her neighbourhood on the outskirts of a large Canadian urban centre. She told me about her move to Canada a few years earlier from a South American country. She felt that living as a transsexual woman in her home country was impossible. She feared that had she remained, she would have faced life-threatening violence.

Since moving to Canada, Cynthia had been working as a sex worker. She told me she generally had clients she liked, and she worked out of her home. She was warm and engaged when talking to me. In her late 30s, Cynthia was well-dressed and had a gentle demeanour. As we sat together drinking tea, she began telling me about how she was threatened with a charge of aggravated sexual assault. She was on anti-HIV medications, was undetectable and regularly used condoms with her clients. She knew that she was protecting them and also herself.

One of her regulars came over one night more intoxicated than was typical for him. He pulled a knife on Cynthia and raped her, holding the knife to her neck. He did not use a condom. She was terrified and called the police afterwards. During the police investigation, Cynthia told police about her HIV-positive status. Later, when speaking with the man who raped her, the police told him that he could press charges against Cynthia. She had previously not disclosed her status to the man, thinking that the use of a condom and being undetectable was more than sufficient. A few weeks later, she received a letter from a detective, stating that she was under investigation and they were considering pressing criminal charges of aggravated sexual assault. She was scared and didn’t know what to do. The man knew where she lived and had been violent toward her, and now she was potentially facing criminal charges. She told me that because she was a sex worker, her rape and assault were not being further pursued by the police. But now she was under threat of a charge of aggravated sexual assault for not disclosing her HIV status to her rapist.

After receiving the letter about the investigation from the authorities, Cynthia felt constantly surveilled, scared and worried. Moreover, now that he knew she was HIV-positive, the client who assaulted her began stalking and harassing her. She was terrified in her own neighbourhood, isolating herself and rarely venturing out. She deactivated her social media accounts because he also began posting messages, harassing her and her friends online. She was extremely fearful in her own neighbourhood but also scared to call the police again. “If I had not called them, I would not have this charge hanging over my head,” she says. She felt as though she was under constant watch, but with no means to protect herself. She knew the police were not going to help her and was worried she would face additional violence from her former client.

George: “This rape charge and HIV was worse than being a murderer in their eyes”

I met George in his apartment. He is a warm and gregarious white gay man in his late 50s, with a self-described long history of problematic prescription drug use, gambling and mental health issues. When George began a specific relationship around 10 years earlier, he initially did not tell his boyfriend about his HIV-positive status. At the time, he told me, he was himself uncertain about how HIV was transmitted. He told me that he was often depressed and in denial about aspects of his life. One day, a few months after his own diagnosis, George told me that his boyfriend came home with an HIV-positive test result from the clinic after a routine sexually transmitted infection screen. George then finally told his boyfriend his status in a letter: “There is a possibility that you may have gotten it from me, and I’m very deeply sorry for not disclosing [it to you].” His boyfriend went into a rage and went to police.

A few days later, he received a text message from his boyfriend that he was at the police station giving them his story. George immediately went to the station. “The next thing I knew, they were taking me into custody, and they said, ‘You have the right to call a lawyer,’ and they told me that ‘you are being arrested for sexual assault.’” George told me that a constable initially told him, “You’ve never had a criminal charge before. You will probably just have to stay overnight and tomorrow we’ll get your bail sorted.” But, a few hours later, the same constable came to see him and told him his charges had been elevated to attempted murder: “‘You aren’t going anywhere,’ she says, and she was right.” Due to the severity of the charge, George was denied bail even though he had no previous criminal record.

Due to the fear, shame and anxiety he experienced, George decided to plead guilty. He had never been incarcerated. The Crown Prosecutor asked for 10 years. George’s lawyer told George to plea, that he had no case because he had admitted his crimes. If he pleaded out, he would be sentenced to a lot less time incarcerated. He listened to his lawyer.

While incarcerated, George was placed in the general population with men facing all types of charges. He started facing verbal and physical harassment. Prisoners began calling him a rapist and asked why he took medication. After days of harassment, he was brutally assaulted by other prisoners. Those assaulting him said they knew he was trying to spread HIV. George said the guards watched and did nothing. (Under an institutional directive, prisoners’ charges and health status should remain confidential, and the only people with access to the information are guards.)

While in protective custody, George remained unsafe and was beaten again and again: “I went into the protective custody wing, and there are all kinds of sex offenders there and murderers and everything else like that. And when I got there, they found out my charge. So, they beat the shit out of me as well. I never fought a day in my life. I have never lifted a hand to anybody… I was on an isolated range for violent murderers and would still get harassed. You know, this rape charge and HIV was worse than being a murderer in their eyes.”

He told me that other sex offenders and murderers were left alone. But he was continually attacked for having HIV combined with a “dirty charge”—that is, aggravated sexual assault. One day, George was being harassed by another prisoner when a guard intervened. George told me he felt the guard had it out for him, and he was scared of the guard who had said demeaning things to him in the past. After the altercation with the other prisoner, George started to have a panic attack. While hyperventilating, that same guard forced George to strip naked and made him lay down on the cold concrete floor, holding him down on the floor with his boot. The guard pushed his boot into George’s chest hard and said, “I don’t touch anyone with AIDS,” as a nurse arrived to sedate George, sticking a syringe in his arm.

Ultimately, he served the rest of his sentence in administrative segregation, where he only had a concrete floor with no bed until night time. He was given just one sheet of paper and a pencil to occupy his time while locked down alone in a cell. He served approximately one year in those conditions.

US: Reporter fired for pushing misleading information in story about man who allegedly spat at Port Authority Officer

WCBS Fires Reporter for Pushing False HIV Fears in Arrest Story
January 10, 2020

WCBS Fires Reporter for Pushing False HIV Fears in Arrest Story

TV outlet, Port Authority police union linked suspect’s alleged spitting to infection risk.

CBS New York confirmed to Gay City News that it has fired a reporter who stoked fear and pushed misinformation about HIV transmission in a story about the arrest of a man who allegedly spit at a Port Authority police officer.

CBS New York has fired a reporter they say was responsible for pushing insensitive and misleading narratives about HIV/ AIDS in a story that blew up on social media on December 8 and 9, a spokesperson confirmed to Gay City News.

As reported by Gay City News, the local CBS affiliate in New York published an article and social media posts implying that an HIV-positive man who allegedly spit on a Port Authority police officer was somehow putting the cop at risk for the virus, despite the fact that HIV cannot be transmitted by saliva.

The reporter described the alleged spitting incident as an “HIV ATTACK” in a tweet, and wrote in the article that the “suspect admitted they spit into an officer’s mouth knowing they had HIV.”

“This online story should not have been published,” CBS New York wrote to Gay City News in a written statement. “It does not meet our journalistic standards, nor does it reflect our core values. The person who wrote and published the story and social media post failed to review the copy with our news managers. This individual is no longer employed by CBS New York.”

A CBS New York spokesperson declined comment when asked, for purposes of transparency, who was fired. The article in question did not have a byline, though the name of one reporter, Tony Aiello, was listed under the “filed under” section of the article and drew attention from some folks on social media who believed he was behind the story. The spokesperson said he was not the reporter who was fired.

However, the other key piece of the story — that the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association (PAPBA) also pushed false claims about HIV and shared the suspect’s HIV status with CBS — remains unresolved. A union spokesperson interviewed by Gay City News on December 9 tried framing the man who allegedly spit on the officer as someone who tried using his HIV status as some sort of weapon.

“The problem is when a person with an infectious disease has a weapon, we have a problem with that,” said PAPBA public information officer Bob Egbert. “A guy who knowingly has an infectious disease — that’s a problem.”

The union has not apologized or retracted any comments, raising the likelihood that advocates who have strongly condemned the news story and the PAPBA comments will continue raising concerns and the controversy will continue to metastasize.

The stigmatization and misinformation infuriated the LGBTQ community and local advocacy organizations who reacted with shock and outrage toward CBS New York and the PAPBA when the article and tweets surfaced. On the afternoon of December 9, ACT UP NY, Bailey House, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Housing Works, and VOCAL-NY were among those who vowed to raise their concerns in a demonstration at CBS headquarters in Manhattan on December 10.

Tajikistan: HIV testing becomes mandatory for boys before their circumcision

Pre–Circumcision HIV Test for Boys Required in Tajikistan
January 9, 2020

Published in Avesta on January 8, 2019 – Google translation, for article in Russian please scroll down

Pre-Circumcision HIV Test for Boys Required in Tajikistan

Avesta.Tj | 01/08/2020 | Pre-circumcision HIV testing for boys in Tajikistan has become mandatory. The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of the country ordered the country’s health facilities to test boys for HIV before circumcision.

As Avesta was informed by a senior specialist of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Tajikistan on children’s diseases Sherali Rakhmatulloev, this measure is timely and is aimed at preventing the spread of HIV infection.

According to Sherali Rakhmutullov, until 2018, 70-80% of male circumcisions in Tajikistan were performed by traditional healers, until a ban on their activities was introduced.

After the ban on the activities of craftsmen circumcising boys at home, rooms were created in medical institutions of the country where circumcision is performed by professional doctors.

“Craftsmen used the same tool for circumcision, which sometimes led to the transmission of infection from one child to another. Now, specialists who use disposable and sterilized instruments are doing this, which minimizes the risks of infection, ”S. Rakhmatulloev noted.

The Ministry of Health believes that mandatory testing of boys for HIV before circumcision is aimed at preventing and preventing the spread of this infection.

“If a child has HIV infection, then it is likely that the child’s parents are the carrier of the infection, or one of them. This allows you to minimize the risk of spreading the infection, ”the Ministry of Health said.

According to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of the country, in 2019, over 81.2 thousand male circumcisions were carried out in the country’s medical institutions.

As the press center of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of the Republic of Tatarstan recalls, at the end of October 2018, an order was issued by the Minister of Health on the regulation of circumcision operations in the country.

This measure was adopted in accordance with the amendments introduced in August 2017 to the law “On the streamlining of folk traditions, triumph and ceremonies”.

As part of the implementation of this law and the head of the Ministry of Health, 693 special facilities for circumcision surgery were created in medical institutions across the country.

In total, in 2019, 81 thousand 231 male circumcision surgeries were carried out in the country’s medical institutions.


Тест на ВИЧ для мальчиков перед обрезанием в Таджикистане стал обязательным

8 января 2020, 10:18

Avesta.Tj | 08.01.2020 | Проверка на ВИЧ перед обрезанием для мальчиков в Таджикистане стала обязательным. Министерство здравоохранение и социальной защиты населения страны обязало медучреждения страны тестировать мальчиков на ВИЧ перед обрезанием.

Как сообщил «Авеста» старший специалист Минздрава РТ по детским заболеваниям Шерали Рахматуллоев, данная мера является своевременной и направлена на профилактику распространения ВИЧ-инфекции.

По словам Шерали Рахмутулловева, до 2018 года 70-80% обрезаний мальчиков в Таджикистане проводили народные целители, пока не был введен запрет на их деятельность.

После введения запрета на деятельность народных умельцев, обрезывающих мальчиков на дому, в медицинских учреждениях страны были созданы кабинеты, где обрезание проводят профессиональные врачи.

«Народные умельцы использовали при обрезании один и тот же инструмент, что иногда приводило к передаче инфекции от одного ребенка другому. Теперь этим занимаются специалисты, которые используют одноразовые и стерилизованные инструменты, что сводит к минимуму риски заражения», – отметил Ш.Рахматуллоев.

В министерстве здравоохранения считают, что обязательное тестирование мальчиков на ВИЧ перед обрезанием направлено на предотвращение и профилактику распространения данной инфекции.

«Если у ребенка выявлена ВИЧ-инфекция, значит, есть вероятность, что носителем инфекции являются родители ребенка, или один из них. Это позволяет минимизировать риск распространения инфекции», – считают в Минздраве.

По данным министерства здравоохранения и социальной защиты населения страны, в 2019 году в медицинских учреждениях страны проведено свыше 81,2 тыс. обрезаний мальчиков.

Как напоминает пресс-центр министерства здравоохранения и социальной защиты населения РТ, в конце октябре 2018 года был издан приказ министра здравоохранения о регулировании операций по обрезанию в стране.

Данная мера была принята согласно поправкам, внесенным в августе 2017 года в закон «Об упорядочении народных традиций, торжестве и обрядов».

В рамках реализации указанного закона и главы Минздрава в медицинских учреждениях по всей стране были созданы 693 специальных помещений для проведения операции по обрезанию.

Всего, в 2019 году в медицинских учреждениях страны проведено 81 тыс. 231 операция по обрезанию мальчиков.

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