UNAIDS says criminal prosecutions do more harm than good

This week UNAIDS has released a fantastic new policy paper firmly establishing that criminal prosecutions for HIV exposure or transmission – whether through sex, drug use or mother to child transmission – do far more harm than good.

The paper coincides with the the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, where this issue is high on the agenda. There’ll be more from the conference soon, but for now, this policy paper is an extremely important addition to the anti-criminalisation armamentarium.

In some countries, criminal law is being applied to those who transmit or expose others to HIV infection. There are no data indicating that the broad application of criminal law to HIV transmission will achieve either criminal justice or prevent HIV transmission. Rather, such application risks undermining public health and human rights. Because of these concerns, UNAIDS urges governments to limit criminalization to cases of intentional transmission i.e. where a person knows his or her HIV positive status, acts with the intention to transmit HIV, and does in fact transmit it. In other instances, the application of criminal law should be rejected by legislators, prosecutors and judges….


Download the entire paper (8 pages) here.