Global advocacy highlights against HIV criminalisation presented at AIDS 2016

Yesterday, at the International AIDS Conference in Durban, the HIV Justice Network and GNP+ presented highlights relating to global advocacy against HIV criminalisation based on updated research from our Advancing HIV Justice 2 report.

Advancing HIV Justice: Building momentum in global advocacy against HIV criminalisation Download the pdf here


HIV criminalisation impacts public health and human rights, undermining efforts to end AIDS. The unjust application of criminal law to people living with HIV based solely on their HIV status, either via HIV-specific criminal statutes, or by applying general criminal laws, is a growing, global phenomenon.


A desk review of criminal proceeding reports and legal texts curated on the HIV Justice Network website as part of the research for the Advancing HIV Justice 2 report supplemented with data from GNP+ ́s Global Criminalisation Scan and Google searches. Recently reported data so far covers March 2013-September 2015 but will be updated to July 2016.

Lessons learned

Key developments in case law and law and policy reform have taken place in numerous jurisdictions, most of which came about as a direct result of advocacy from individuals and organisations working to end the inappropriate use of the criminal law to regulate and punish people living with HIV. However, a complex picture emerges of advocacy successes and proposed laws in some of the same countries/regions of the world suggesting disparate approaches to HIV criminalisation that are sensitive to local social, cultural, epidemiological and political contexts, as well as the capacity of advocates to challenge such laws and prosecutions. Although the evidence base against HIV criminalisation is strong, evidence alone is often not enough for policy- and lawmakers who want to be seen to be doing something to impact the HIV epidemic and who may be more swayed by emotive or ́popular ́arguments rather than implement a rational, evidence-based response.

Conclusions/Next steps

Despite a growing number of advocacy successes leading to improved legal environments for people living with HIV, much more work is required to strengthen advocacy capacity to ensure a more just, rational, evidence-informed criminal justice response to HIV that will benefit both public health and human rights.

Advancing HIV Justice: Building momentum in global advocacy against HIV criminalisation