Despite our best efforts, we know that we can only represent the tip of the HIV criminalisation iceberg

This website operates as a global hub, consolidating a wide range of resources on HIV criminalisation for advocates working to abolish criminal and similar laws, policies and practices that regulate, control and punish people living with HIV based on their HIV-positive status. It includes up-to-date news, cases, laws and organisations working to end HIV criminalisation, with much of that information available through the Global Criminalisation Database.

The information contained on this website is a synthesis of information obtained from multiple sources in various languages: each piece representing countless hours of work by individuals, civil society organisations, networks of people living with HIV, academic institutions, and UN agencies dedicated to advocacy for HIV justice. We thank all concerned for access to their work, recognising that despite our best efforts, we are able to reflect only the tip of the HIV criminalisation iceberg.

The reality is that obtaining accurate information on HIV criminalisation cases and laws is challenging – even more so in countries/jurisdictions where such information is not routinely reported and/or freely available. Given the lack, or inadequacy, of systems to track HIV-related criminal cases in most jurisdictions, it is not possible to determine an exact number of cases that have been investigated and prosecuted. Much of what is known about individual cases comes from media reports, and often the outcome of a reported arrest, or the legal disposition of a criminal case, remains unknown.

Other limitations that may favour case reporting in one country/jurisdiction compared to another include: accessibility to information including through the media and case records; whether or not researchers or civil society organisations have been working on and/or monitoring HIV criminalisation cases; the role and ‘effectiveness’ of public health offices in pursuing partner notification; and whether or not individuals and communities rely on the criminal justice system to manage HIV-related disputes.

Therefore, all of our case reports – including numbers of known and/or reported cases – should be seen as an illustration of what is likely to be a much more widespread, but generally under-documented, use of the criminal law against people living with HIV.

Similarly, it has not been possible to document every piece of legislation that has, or could be, used for HIV criminalisation. The list of legislation contained in the Global Criminalisation Database grew from that contained in GNP+’s groundbreaking Global Criminalisation Scan (now incorporated into this site). Further substantial assistance was provided by Australian law firm Hall & Wilcox, with support from our colleages at the UNAIDS secretariat in Geneva, as well as networks of advocates and civil society organisations from around the world.

Despite our growing global reach, we know we are not yet connected with everyone working to help end HIV criminalisation, so please let us know if you’d like to become part of our network. If you have useful information that is not included on our site, please send us an email or get in touch using our contact us form.