UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon: criminalising HIV transmission “reinforces stigma”

United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon has spoken out for the first time against the criminalisation of HIV transmission.

Speaking at the HIV/AIDS review during the 63rd United Nations General Assembly, held in New York on June 16th, Mr. Ban spoke out about laws and policies that criminalised people with, and at risk of, HIV. He ended his speech by stating:

In recent years, a growing number of countries have taken steps to criminalize HIV transmission.

In theory, this has been done to prevent the spread of infection. In practice, it has done the opposite – reducing the effectiveness of HIV prevention efforts by reinforcing the stigma.

Such measures send the message that people living with HIV are a danger to society. We must instead encourage tolerance, compassion and inclusion.

Today, the Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+) joined Mr Ban’s call to end HIV-related stigma and discrimination and highlighted similar calls from UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, who said, in his address to the Meeting of the Programme Coordinating Board, held in Geneva on June 23th that

punitive laws that discriminate against men who have sex with men, sex workers, injecting drug users, migrants and people living with HIV must be removed from the statute books, country by country.

I must say that I’m honoured and proud to be working with both organisations as a consultant to aid in their work towards these goals.