Belarus: Welcoming important developments in the fight against unjust HIV criminalisation

HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE along with our partners at The Eurasian Women’s Network on AIDS and Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) welcome this week’s announcement of an amendment to Article 157 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus, which finally allows consent following disclosure to sexual partner as a defence. Whilst recognizing there is still a long way to go to remove all unjust criminal laws against people living with HIV in Belarus, we congratulate our partners and colleagues in Belarus People PLUS for this achievement!

Today, Parliamentarians of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus adopted in the second reading three bills, one of which was the law “On introducing amendments to some codes of the Republic of Belarus”. Among other changes, an amendment was adopted to article 157 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus (one of the most draconian HIV-specific criminal laws in the world), which now allows that people who have warned their partners will no longer be held criminally responsible for potential or perceived HIV exposure or transmission.

Read Yana’s story on GNP+’s website

Until today, Article 157 states that people living with HIV are totally criminally liable for potential or perceived HIV exposure or transmission, even if the so-called injured party had no complaints against their partner, knew about the risks and consented. Prosecutions took place because infectious disease doctors informed police and many people were convicted (read Yana’s story here)

In 2017, 130 criminal cases were initiated under Article 157 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus, with another 48 in the first half of 2018. Now, it will be possible to revisit those cases.

Anatoly Leshenok, representative of the NGO, People Plus states: “The adopted changes are only the first step in achieving our goal of decriminalising HIV transmission. According to information received from the department for drafting bills, other, more fundamental changes to Article 157 of the Criminal Code of Belarus have not been approved. It is necessary to continue to work with these State structures and with public opinion in order to form a more tolerant attitude towards HIV-positive people. But those changes that have been adopted today –  that’s a success for our team! ”

Anatoly Leshenok. Photo: UNAIDS Country Office in Belarus
Anatoly Leshenok. Photo: UNAIDS Country Office in Belarus

After approval by the Council of the Republic and the President, the amendments will make it possible to revisit previous sentences of the courts, and improve lives of people that were broken previously, as well it provide opportunity now and in the future for people living with HIV in serodiscordant partnerships to plan their lives without worrying if they are criminals every time they have sex.


HIV JUSTICE TOOLKIT now available in French | Boîte à outils VIH JUSTICE maintenant disponible en français

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La version française de la boîte à outils de HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE visant à soutenir le plaidoyer contre la pénalisation du VIH est disponible en ligne.

Les juristes et militants francophones qui luttent contre les lois obsolètes de pénalisation du VIH disposeront désormais d’une nouvelle ressource indispensable avec la publication de la version française de la boîte à outil de plaidoyer contre la pénalisation du VIH de HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE. 

Cette ressource vise à soutenir les intervenants dans leur travail contre la pénalisation du VIH à tous les niveaux, que ce soit dans le domaine de l’éducation des communautés et des législateurs ou pour la défense individuelle des affaires pénales.

Conçue par le HIV Justice Network (HJN) et développée avec l’aide et l’assistance inestimable des membres du réseau francophone de HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE, la boîte à outils a été financée par une subvention du Robert Carr Fund.

La boîte à outils rassemble près de 170 documents pertinents aux pays francophones,  organisés en douze rubriques principales, elles-mêmes subdivisées en plusieurs sous-sections:

  1. Les effets de la pénalisation sur la riposte au VIH
  2. Que disent les experts
  3. Organiser le plaidoyer
  4. Comprendre le droit
  5. Le droit à un procès équitable
  6. Utiliser les données scientifiques pour renforcer l’argument
  7. Travailler avec la police
  8. Interpeler les procureurs
  9. Renseigner les avocats
  10. Informer les juges
  11. Intervenir dans les médias
  12. Autres boites à outils

En plus de la classification par thème, l’ensemble de la boite à outils est consultable par mot clef, date, pays etc.

La boite à outils est pour l’instant uniquement disponible en anglais et en français, mais HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE travaille actuellement sur une version espagnole et russe, prévues pour 2019

Pour explorer les ressources de notre boîte à outils, rendez-vous à l’adresse suivante:

Si vous trouvez la boîte à outils utile et/ou si vous avez des suggestions concernant des ressources à ajouter, contactez-nous

With today’s publication of the French version of HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE’s Advocacy Toolkit, French-speaking lawyers and activists fighting unjust and outdated HIV criminalisation in Francophone countries around the world now have an indispensable new resource.

The Toolkit, available at: aims to support stakeholders in their work against HIV criminalisation at all levels, whether educating community or legislators or for the individual defense of criminal cases.Designed by the HIV Justice Network (HJN) and developed with the invaluable help and assistance of members of the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE French-speaking network, the Toolkit was funded by a grant from the Robert Carr Fund.

The Toolkit brings together nearly 170 documents relevant to French-speaking countries, organised into twelve main sections, further subdivided into several subsections:

1. The effects of HIV criminalisation on the HIV response

2. What do the experts say

3. Organising advocacy

4. Understanding the law

5. The right to a fair trial

6. Using scientific data to reinforce our arguments

7. Working with the police

8. Educating prosecutors

9. Informing lawyers

10. Informing judges

11. Intervening in the media

12. Other toolkits

In addition to the classification by theme, the whole Toolkit is searchable by keyword, date, country etc.

The HIV Justice Toolkit is only available in English and French, but HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE is currently working on Spanish and Russian versions, planned for 2019.

Beyond Blame 2018 Meeting Report and Evaluation Now Available

Beyond Blame 2018: Challenging HIV Criminalisation was a one-day meeting for activists, advocates, judges, lawyers, scientists, healthcare professionals and researchers working to end HIV criminalisation. Held at the historic De Balie in Amsterdam, immediately preceding the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018), the meeting was convened by HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE and supported by a grant from the Robert Carr Fund for Civil Society Networks.

The Meeting Report and Evaluation, written by the meeting’s lead rapporteur, Sally Cameron, Senior Policy Analyst for the HIV Justice Network, is now available for download here.

Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 10.56.59The meeting discussed progress on the global effort to combat the unjust use of the criminal law against people living with HIV, including practical opportunities for advocates working in different jurisdictions to share knowledge, collaborate, and energise the global fight against HIV criminalisation. The programme included keynote presentations, interactive panels, and more intimate workshops focusing on critical issues in the fight against HIV criminalisation around the world.

The more than 150 attendees at the meeting came from 30 countries covering most regions of the world including Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Latin and North America and Western Europe. Participation was extended to a global audience through livestreaming of the meeting on the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE YouTube Channel, with interaction facilitated through the use of Twitter (using the hashtag #BeyondBlame2018) to ask questions of panellists and other speakers. See our Twitter Moments story here.

Following the meeting, participants were surveyed to gauge the event’s success. All participants rated Beyond Blame 2018 as good (6%), very good (37%), or excellent (57%), with 100% of participants saying that Beyond Blame 2018 had provided useful information and evidence they could use to advocate against HIV criminalisation. 

A video recording of the entire meeting is available on HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE’s YouTube Chanel.  

Key points

  • The experience of HIV criminalisation was a poor fit for individual’s actions and the consequences of those actions, particularly where actions included little or no possibility of transmission or where courts did not address scientific evidence
  • The consequences of prosecution for alleged HIV non-disclosure prior to sex are enormous and may include being ostracised, dealing with trauma and ongoing mental health issues, loss of social standing, financial instability, multiple barriers to participation in society, and sex offender registration
  • Survivors of the experience shared a sense of solidarity with others who had been through the system, and were determined to use their voices to create change so that others do not have to go through similar experiences
  • Becoming an advocate against HIV criminalisation is empowering and helps to make sense of individuals’ experiences
  • The movement against HIV criminalisation has grown significantly over the last decade but as the movement has grown, so has understanding of the breadth of the issue, with new cases and laws frequently uncovered in different parts of the world.
  • As well as stigma, there are multiple structural barriers in place enabling HIV criminalisation, including lags in getting modern science into courtrooms and incentives for police to bring cases for prosecution.
  • Community mobilisation is vital to successful advocacy. That work requires funding, education, and dialogue among those most affected to develop local agendas for change.
  • Criminalisation is complex and more work is required to build legal literacy of local communities.
  • Regional and global organisations play a vital role supporting local organisations to network and increase understanding and capacity for advocacy.
  • There have already been many advocacy successes, frequently the result of interagency collaboration and effective community mobilisation.
  • It is critical to frame advocacy against HIV criminalisation around justice, effective public health strategy and science rather than relying on science alone, as this more comprehensive framing is both more strategic and will help prevent injustices that may result from a reliance on science alone.
  • There have been lengthy delays between scientific and medical understanding of HIV being substantiated in large scale, authoritative trials, and that knowledge being accepted by courts.
  • Improving courts’ understanding that effective treatment radically reduces HIV transmission risk (galvanised in the grassroots ‘U=U’ movement) has the potential to dramatically decrease the number of prosecutions and convictions associated with HIV criminalisation and could lead to a modernisation of HIV-related laws.
  • Great care must be exercised when advocating a ‘U=U’ position at policy/law reform level, as doing so has the potential to deflect attention from issues of justice, particularly the need to repeal HIV-specific laws, stop the overly broad application of laws, and ensure that people who are not on treatment, cannot access viral load testing and/or who have a detectable viral load are not left behind.
  • Courts’ poor understanding of the effectiveness of modern antiretroviral therapies contributes to laws being inappropriately applied and people being convicted and sentenced to lengthy jail terms because of an exaggerated perception of ‘the harms’ caused by HIV.
  • HIV-related stigma remains a major impediment to the application of modern science into the courtroom, and a major issue undermining justice for people living with HIV throughout all legal systems.
  • HIV prevention, including individuals living with HIV accessing and remaining on treatment, is as much the responsibility of governments as individuals, and governments should ensure accessible, affordable and supportive health systems to enable everyone to access HIV prevention and treatment.
  • New education campaigns are required, bringing modern scientific understanding into community health education.
  • Continuing to work in silos is slowing our response to the HIV epidemic.
  • HIV criminalisation plays out in social contexts, with patriarchal social structures and gender discrimination intersecting with race, class, sexuality and other factors to exacerbate existing social inequalities.
  • Women’s efforts to seek protections from the criminal justice system are not always feminist; they often further the carceral state and promote criminalisation.
  • Interventions by some purporting to speak on behalf of women’s safety or HIV prevention efforts have delivered limited successes because social power, the structuring of laws and the ways laws are administered remain rooted in patriarchal power and structural violence.
  • Feminist approaches must recognise that women’s experiences differ according to a range of factors including race, class, types of work, immigration status, the experience of colonisation, and others.
  • For many women, HIV disclosure is not a safe option.
  • More work is needed to increase legal literacy and support for local women to develop and lead HIV criminalisation advocacy based on their local context.
  • When women affected by HIV have had the opportunity to consider the way that ‘protective’ HIV laws are likely to be applied, they have often concluded that those laws will be used against them and have taken action to advocate against the use of those laws.

At the end of the meeting, participants were asked to make some closing observations. These included:

  • Recognising that the event had allowed a variety of voices to be heard. In particular, autobiographical voices were the most authentic and most powerful: people speaking about their own experiences. This model which deferred to those communicating personal experiences, should be use when speaking to those in power.
  • Appreciating that there was enormous value in hearing concrete examples of how people are working to address HIV criminalisation, particularly when working intersectionally. It is important to capture these practical examples and make them available (noting practical examples will form the focus of the pending Advancing HIV Justice 3 report).
  • Understanding that U=U is based on a degree of privilege that is not shared by all people living with HIV. It is vital that accurate science informs HIV criminalisation as a means to reduce the number of people being prosecuted, however, people who are not on treatment are likely to become the new ‘scapegoats’. It is important that we take all opportunities to build bridges between U=U and anti-HIV criminalisation advocates, to create strong pathways to work together and support shared work.
  • Noting the importance of calling out racism and colonialism and their effects.
  • Observing that more effort is required to better understand and improve the role of police, health care providers and peer educators to limit HIV criminalisation.
  • Exploring innovative ways to advocate against HIV criminalisation, including community education work through the use of art, theatre, dance and other mechanisms.
  • Concluding that we must challenge ourselves going forward. That we must make the circle bigger. That next time we meet, we should challenge ourselves to bring someone who doesn’t agree with us. That we each find five people who aren’t on our side or don’t believe HIV criminalisation is a problem and we find ways and means (including funding) to bring them to the next Beyond Blame.

Bringing Science to Justice: End HIV Criminalisation Now

News Release

Networks of people living with HIV and human rights and legal organisations worldwide welcome the Expert Consensus Statement on the Science of HIV in the Context of Criminal Law

Amsterdam, July 25, 2018 — Today, 20 of the world’s leading HIV scientists released a ground-breaking Expert Consensus Statement providing their conclusive opinion on the low-to-no possibility of a person living with HIV transmitting the virus in various situations, including the per-act transmission likelihood, or lack thereof, for different sexual acts. This Statement was further endorsed by the International AIDS Society (IAS), the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and 70 additional experts from 46 countries around the world.

The Expert Consensus Statement was written to both assist scientific experts considering individual criminal cases, and also to urge governments and criminal justice system actors to ensure that any application of the criminal law in cases related to HIV is informed by scientific evidence rather than stigma and fear. The Statement was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the International AIDS Society (JIAS) and launched at a critical moment during the 22nd International AIDS Conference, now underway.

“As long-time activists who have been clamouring for a common, expert understanding of the current science around HIV, we are delighted with the content and widespread support for this Statement,” said Edwin J Bernard, Global Co-ordinator of the HIV Justice Network, secretariat to the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE campaign. “Eminent, award-winning scientists from all regions of the world have come together to provide a clarion call for HIV justice, providing us with an important new advocacy tool for an HIV criminalisation-free world.”

The Statement provides the first globally-relevant expert opinion regarding individual HIV transmission dynamics (i.e., the ‘possibility’ of transmission), long-term impact of chronic HIV infection (i.e., the ‘harm’ of HIV), and the application of phylogenetic analysis (i.e., whether or not this can be used as definitive ‘proof’ of who infected whom). Based on a detailed analysis of scientific and medical research, it describes the possibility of HIV transmission related to a specific act during sexual activity, biting or spitting as ranging from low to no possibility. It also clearly states that HIV is a chronic, manageable health condition in the context of access to treatment, and that while phylogenetic results can exonerate a defendant when the results exclude them as the source of a complainant’s HIV infection, they cannot conclusively prove that one person infected another.

“Around the world, we are seeing prosecutions against people living with HIV who had no intent to cause harm. Many did not transmit HIV and indeed posed no actual risk of transmission,” said Cécile Kazatchkine, Senior Policy Analyst with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, a member and key partner organisation of the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE campaign. “These prosecutions are unjust, and today’s Expert Consensus Statement confirms that the law is going much too far.”

Countless people living with HIV around the world are currently languishing in prisons having been found guilty of HIV-related ‘crimes’ that, according the Expert Consensus Statement, do not align with current science. One of those is Sero Project Board Member, Kerry Thomas from Idaho, who says: “I practiced all the things I knew to be essential to protect my sexual partner: working closely with my doctor, having an undetectable viral load, and using condoms.  But in terms of the law, all that mattered was whether or not I disclosed. I am now serving a 30-year sentence.”

FINAL_KERRY_NOT-A-CRIME-POSTERWhile today’s Statement is extremely important, it is also crucial to recognise that we cannot end HIV criminalisation through science alone. Due to the numerous human rights and public health concerns associated with HIV criminalisation, UNAIDS, the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, among others, have all urged governments worldwide to limit the use of the criminal law to cases of intentional HIV transmission. (These are extremely rare cases wherein a person knows their HIV-positive status, acts with the intention to transmit HIV, and does in fact transmit the virus.)

We must also never lose sight of the intersectional ways that — due to factors such as race, gender, economic or legal residency status, among others — access to HIV treatment and/or viral load testing, and ability to negotiate condom use are more limited for some people than others. These are also the same people who are less likely to encounter fair treatment in court, within the medical system, or in the media.

“Instead of protecting women, HIV criminalisation places women living with HIV at increased risk of violence, abuse and prosecution,” says Michaela Clayton, Executive Director of the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA). “The scientific community has spoken, and now the criminal justice system, law and policymakers must also consider the impact of prosecutions on the human rights of people living with HIV, including women living with HIV, to prevent miscarriages of justice and positively impact the HIV response.”

HIV criminalisation is a pervasive illustration of systemic discrimination against people living with HIV who continue to be stigmatised and discriminated against on the basis of their status. We applaud this Statement and hope it will help end HIV criminalisation by challenging all-too-common mis-conceptions about the consequences of living with the virus, and how it is and is not transmitted. It is indeed time to bring science to HIV justice.

To read the full Expert Consensus Statement, which is also available in French, Spanish and Russian in the Supplementary Materials, please visit the Journal of the International AIDS Society at

VIsit the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE website to read a short summary of the Expert Consensus statement here:

To understand more about the context of the Expert Consensus Statement go to:

HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE is a growing, global movement to shape the discourse on HIV criminalisation as well as share information and resources, network, build capacity, mobilise advocacy, and cultivate a community of transparency and collaboration. It is run by a Steering Committee of ten partners AIDS Action Europe, AIDS-Free World, AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), HIV Justice Network, International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW), Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), Sero Project, and Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA) and currently comprises more than 80 member organisations internationally.

Final programme for Beyond Blame 2018 Now Online: Last few places available so register now!

Beyond Blame 2018: Challenging HIV Criminalisation is a one-day meeting for activists, advocates, lawyers, scientists, healthcare professionals, researchers, policymakers, and anyone else interested in working to end HIV criminalisation.

The programme includes interactive panels, keynote presentations and parallel workshops focusing on critical issues in the fight against HIV criminalisation around the world.

The final programme can be downloaded here.

With only a 200 maximum capacity, space is now very limited, so if you plan to attend you should register as soon as possible at this link:

But don’t worry if you can’t be in Amsterdam: we will be live streaming all of the plenary sessions onto the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE YouTube Channel.  (No need to register to watch online, though.) Don’t forget to subscribe ahead of time so you are alerted when we add new videos.

And you can be part of the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #BeyondBlame2018

The meeting is being convened by the Steering Committee of HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE – comprising AIDS Action Europe, AIDS-Free World, AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), HIV Justice Network, International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW), Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), Sero and Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA).

Beyond Blame 2018 is supported by a grant from the Robert Carr Fund for Civil Society Networks.

New Toolkit Supports Advocates in Using Media to Fight for HIV Justice

When it comes to the widely misunderstood, complex issue of HIV criminalisation, media can be a powerful tool–or a blunt-force weapon.

And so today, as people around the world living with HIV continue to be criminalised and convicted at alarming rates, HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE has released “Making Media Work for HIV Justice: An introduction to media engagement for advocates opposing HIV criminalisation.

The new resource is the latest addition to the HIV JUSTICE Toolkit, which provides resources from all over the world to assist advocates in approaching a range of advocacy targets, including lawmakers, prosecutors and judges, police, and the media.

The purpose of this critical media toolkit is to inform and equip global grassroots advocates who are engaged in media response to HIV criminalisation–and to demystify the practice of working with, and through, media to change the conversation around criminalisation.

“As advocates work to build community coalitions and consensus about the importance of limiting and ending HIV criminalisation, we need to articulate our common positions to the public and to decision-makers; thus, working with the media is critically important,” says Richard Elliott, Executive Director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and a member of the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE Steering Committee. “Also, particularly in settings where sexual assault laws are used to criminalise people living with HIV, it is important to communicate via the media why this misuse of the criminal law is harmful to women.”

The toolkit provides an introduction to the topic of HIV criminalisation and the importance of engagement with media to change narratives around this unjust practice. The toolkit also includes reporting tips for journalists, designed to educate writers and media makers around the nuances of HIV criminalisation, and the harms of inaccurate and stigmatising coverage.

Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA), the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE Steering Committee member organisation that produced the toolkit, has been working on HIV criminalisation for many years, and was an instrumental part of the coalition that brought HIV criminal law reform to the US state of California.

“With HIV rarely making front page news anymore, the highly sensationalised reporting of criminalisation cases–which most often contains little in the way of facts or science–paints a dehumanising picture of people living with HIV,” says Jennie Smith-Camejo, Communications Director for PWN-USA. “This kind of coverage can and does destroy real lives of those affected by HIV criminalisation laws, while fueling and feeding misinformation and stigma.”

The toolkit also includes a number of case studies providing examples of how media played a significant role in the outcome, or the impetus, of HIV criminalisation advocacy.

“I have been monitoring media coverage of speculations, arrests, prosecutions, and convictions of people living with HIV, and also legal and policy proposals for new laws and/or reform, for more than a decade,” notes Edwin J Bernard, Global Co-ordinator of the HIV Justice Network and a member of the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE coalition. “It’s time for the injustice to end. ‘Making Media Work for HIV Justice’ is a long-overdue welcome addition to the HIV JUSTICE Toolkit, and an important step towards realising a world where people living with HIV are not singled out by the criminal justice system simply for having a virus.“

“Making Media Work for HIV Justice: An introduction to media engagement for advocates opposing HIV criminalisation” was supported by a grant from the Robert Carr Fund for Civil Society Networks. It  will also be translated into French, Spanish, and Russian later this year.

Webinar: Making Media Work for HIV Justice

This 90 minute webinar introduced attendees to some of the concepts and practices highlighted in the toolkit, and featured formidable activists, journalists, communications professionals, and human rights defenders working at the intersection of media and HIV criminalisation.


HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE is an initiative made up of global, regional, and national civil society organisations–most of them led by people living with HIV–who are working together to build a worldwide movement to end HIV criminalisation. All of the founding partners have worked individually and collectively on HIV criminalisation for a number of years.

HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE is run by a 10-member Steering Committee: AIDS Action Europe / European HIV Legal Forum; AIDS-Free World; AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA); Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network; Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+); HIV Justice Network; International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW); Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA); Sero Project (SERO); and Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC).

To learn more and to join the movement, visit:

Download the media release as a pdf here:

US: SERO Project and Positive Women’s Network-USA Announce 2018 HIV Is Not a Crime National Training Academy Registration is Open (Press Release)

SERO Project and Positive Women’s Network-USA Announce 2018 HIV Is Not a Crime National Training Academy Registration is Open

February 5, 2018: SERO Project and Positive Women’s Network – USA are excited to announce that registration is now open for the 2018 HIV is Not a Crime III National Training Academy! Planning to participate? Register now! Get more information on the training academy website here.

Building on the amazing success of the HIV Is Not a Crime II National Training Academy in 2016, the planning process is underway for the third HIV Is Not a Crime National Training Academy to support advocates in their efforts to repeal or modernize state laws criminalizing the alleged non-disclosure, perceived or potential exposure or transmission of HIV. The training academy will be held at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) June 3-6, 2018.

HIV is Not a Crime III will once again unite and train advocates living with HIV and allies from across the country about laws criminalizing people living with HIV and on strategies and best practices for repealing such laws. Skills-building trainings, with an emphasis on grassroots organizing, advocacy, coalition-building and campaign planning, will leave participants with concrete tools and resources to work on state-level strategies when they return home.

“The HIV Modernization Movement (HMM) is excited to welcome HIV is Not a Crime III to the IUPUI campus! Science has made extraordinary advances since the HIV epidemic began in the 1980s, but one area that hasn’t kept up is the body of laws that criminalize HIV. Lacking in scientific merit, these harmful laws stigmatize people living with HIV and are counterproductive to HIV treatment and prevention efforts. Organized activities like this one, that bring together people living with HIV and their allies to collectively strategize on reforming these draconian laws, are critical to ending the HIV epidemic,” says Dr. Carrie Foote, HMM Chair and Associate Professor at IUPUI.

Interested in presenting a session at HIV Is Not a Crime III? The abstract submission process is open through Monday, February 12. Find complete instructions for submitting your session proposal here.

Interested in providing financial support for this important event? Sponsorships are still available at various levels. Please contact Sean Strub, SERO Project (sean… or Naina Khanna at Positive Women’s Network – USA (… for more information.

Questions? Please contact Tami Haught, SERO Organizer and Training Coordinator, at:


Malawi: Human Rights Activists celebrate adoption of amended HIV Law that removes rights-infringing provisions (Press Release)

PRESS RELEASE 28 November 2017


Lilongwe – On Tuesday, 28 November, Malawi Members of Parliament voted to reject coercive and criminalising provisions that threatened human rights in a long-deliberated HIV (Prevention and Management) Bill.

Activists and people living with and affected by HIV celebrated outside Parliament after having protested for months against rights-infringing provisions in the HIV Bill, tabled earlier this year. The Bill, which had its origins in a 2008 Law Commission Report, included provisions to make HIV testing and treatment mandatory for select populations on a discriminatory basis, and provisions that would criminalise HIV exposure and transmission, amongst others.

Civil society and activists argued that these provisions would violate the Malawi Constitution, be at odds with international best practice, and compromise the country’s efforts to advance HIV treatment and prevention.

On Tuesday, Members of Parliament debated amendments to the Bill advanced by Members and its HIV Committee. Minister of Health, Hon. Atupele Muluzi, urged Members to endorse these amendments when adopting the Bill, emphasizing that criminalising HIV had negative public health implications. Parliament voted to support all the amendments proposed by the HIV Committee and, in addition, voted to delete a contentious provision relating to “deliberate infection” with HIV. After a second reading, the Bill was passed subject to these amendments.

Activists celebrate the passing of the amended HIV/AIDS Bill today in Lilongwe.
Activists celebrate the passing of the amended HIV Bill today in Lilongwe. (Source SALC)

“It is thanks to women activists who fought to have their voices heard that Parliament has recognised that abandoning human rights protections will only drive vulnerability to HIV,” said Sarai-Chisala Tempelhoff of the Women Lawyers Association (WLA Malawi). “When the evidence tells us women and girls should be at the forefront of our response to HIV, it is important to understand the criminalisation would only increase the risk of violence and abuse that Malawian women face; strengthen prevailing gendered inequalities in healthcare and family settings; and further drive stigma, fear and discrimination around HIV.”

“Mandatory testing and treatment and criminalization of HIV transmission and exposure are counter-productive to reaching the goals of the HIV response in Malawi. We are glad our voices have been heard through the work of organisations like ICW Malawi, the Coalition of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (COWLHA), the Female Sex Workers Association, the Women Farmers Coalition and others. Human rights have prevailed today in Malawi.” said Clara Banya of the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) Malawi.

“We are elated that Parliament has chosen to endorse a law based on evidence and reason and not on stigma and fear. It is people who are most marginalized in our society who would suffer most under coercive and criminalising laws – these are people who need society’s support, not punishment.” said Victor Mhango, Executive Director of the Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA).

Gift Trapence, Executive Director of the Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP), agreed, “While we urgently need to embrace key populations to advance human rights and the HIV response in Malawi, the Bill was proposing to create further barriers. While the amended version adopted by Parliament does not speak to key populations directly, we must celebrate that at least it hasn’t added to the legal barriers as initially proposed.”

MacDonald Sembereka, Executive Director of the Mango Key Populations Network said, “As actors in the sector we urge for the prompt assent and implementation of the Act as it is long overdue.”

“We commend and support the incredible advocacy of Malawian civil society and women activists in particular who have refused to be silenced into accepting compromises on punitive laws and policies,” said Michaela Clayton, Director of the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA). “The role of human rights in an effective HIV response is as important now as it has always been.”

“While some provisions remain that are perplexing and of which we should remain wary (such as those placing duties on people living with HIV to adhere to treatment), Parliament’s acceptance of the amendments in the Act is a victory for citizens and supporters of human rights in Malawi who resisted efforts to enact the Bill in its original form at all costs,” said Annabel Raw, health rights lawyer at the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC).

Laurel Sprague, Executive Director of Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) said, “GNP+ applauds the remarkable community effort that focused on education, current science and best practices. Women living with HIV, sex workers, and women lawyers led the way in explaining why punitive laws harm the HIV response and ensuring that a human rights approach is at the centre of Malawi’s HIV response.”

Statement by:

The AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA)

The Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP)

The Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA)

The Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+)

The International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) Malawi

The MANGO Key Populations Network

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC)

Women Lawyers Association, Malawi





Lesley Odendal (Communications Lead, AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa) Email:; Tel: + 27 72 960 8991.

Annabel Raw (Health Rights Lawyer, Southern Africa Litigation Centre) Email:; Tel: +27 10 596 8538.



HIV JUSTICE Toolkit to support advocacy against HIV criminalisation now online

HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE today announced the launch of the HIV Justice Toolkit, which aims to support advocates to oppose HIV criminalisation at all levels – from educating communities and lawmakers to defending individual cases.

Curated by Sally Cameron, Senior Policy Analyst at the HIV Justice Network (HJN) with input and assistance from HJN’s Global Co-ordinator, Edwin J Bernard and HJN’s Research/Outreach Co-ordinator, Sylvie Beaumont, the Toolkit’s creation was faciliated by the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE Steering Committee, designed by Thomas Patterson/NAM, and supported by a grant from the Robert Carr civil society Networks Fund.

“We are delighted at the launch of this timely HIV Justice Toolkit. Advocates will find that the use of this Toolkit will increase collaborative and targeted responses for the most vulnerable – in our case women living with HIV, who often suffer the most because of HIV criminalisation. The Toolkit is timely in galvanising action and encouraging activists and communities to proactively mount evidence-based advocacy campaigns to end HIV criminalisation.”

Lynette Mabotte, Southern and East Africa Regional Programmes Lead,

AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA)

The Toolkit is a comprehensive compendium of almost 300 documents and videos, organised under twelve main headings, each of which is broken down into futher subsections.

  1. How HIV criminalisation undermines the HIV response
  2. What the experts says
  3. Organising advocacy
  4. Understanding the law
  5. Initiating policy and law reform
  6. Supporting fair and robust trials
  7. Using science to prove your argument
  8. Working with police
  9. Educating prosecutors
  10. Educating judges
  11. Getting the message right
  12. Other toolkits

The entire Toolkit is also searchable by keyword.

“This easy-to-read summary of critical resources is a tremendous contribution to the fight to end HIV criminalisation. We will reference and utilise this important new addition to the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE site frequently.”

Sean Strub, Executive Director, Sero Project

Although the Toolkit is currently only available in English, where documents already exist in other languages, these are included.

HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE are now working on a French version of the Toolkit, with other languages (i.e. Spanish and Russian) due in 2018, depending on demand, capacity and funding.

Explore the resources contained within the HIV Justice Toolkit at:

If you find the Toolkit useful and/or you have resources you would like featured in the Toolkit please contact us.

New video advocacy tool: How to organise to change the law – the story of the Colorado Mod Squad

The Toolkit also features a new video advocacy tool, ‘The Colorado Story’ which explains in 15 minutes how a group of dedicated advocates in Colorado ‘modernised’ their HIV-related laws to improve the legal environment for people living with HIV.

Featuring Barb Cardell and Kari Hartel of the Colorado Mod Squad and Colorado State Senator, Pat Steadman, the video was written and introduced by HJN’s Edwin J Bernard, with interviews by Mark S King, and directed / produced by Nicholas Feustel for the HIV Justice Network/HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE.


HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE is a growing, global movement to shape the discourse on HIV criminalisation as well as share information and resources, network, build capacity, mobilise advocacy, and cultivate a community of transparency and collaboration.

The mission of HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE is to seek to abolish criminal and similar laws, policies and practices that regulate, control and punish people living with HIV based on their HIV-positive status.

We believe that this HIV criminalisation is discriminatory, a violation of human rights, undermines public health, and is detrimental to individual health and well-being.

To learn more, visit

Apply now for the first European HIV Academy for Enabling Legal Environments, September 13-14, Berlin

A call for applications for the European HIV Academy for Enabling Legal Environments is now open.

This two-day training academy for people living with and affected by HIV, is dedicated to skills building for addressing punitive or disabling legal environments.

Around 25 participants from across Europe will be selected to take part in this training academy, which will focus on three intersectional legal barriers affecting people living with, and affected by, HIV:

  • legal and regulatory barriers that impact access to HIV testing;
  • legal barriers affecting access to healthcare of migrants in an irregular situation; and
  • criminalisation of HIV non-disclosure, potential or perceived exposure, and/or transmission.

The training academy is organised in collaboration with Deutsche AIDS Hilfe (DAH) – the host organisation of AIDS Action Europe (AAE) – the European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG), Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) and the HIV Justice Network (HJN).

When: 13-14 September 2017

Where: Deutsche AIDS Hilfe, Berlin, Germany

Apply here:

Applications close Wednesday July 26th (23:59 CET)

The objectives of the training academy are:

  1. To increase awareness and understanding of the many legal barriers to health, dignity, and HIV prevention for people living with, and affected by, HIV.
  2. To increase skills and capacity of people living with and affected by HIV by using new tools created by each of the Academy partners in order to challenge punitive or disabling legal environments at the country-level across Europe.
  3. To develop stronger relationships and networks within Europe in order to facilitate skills-sharing and support amongst people working on HIV-related legal and policy reform across the region.
  4. To catalyse co-ordination and strengthen community voices from across Europe on the road to AIDS 2018 and beyond.


The training academy is organised in a workshop format with presentations and group work. The trainers are leading experts in the field from the organising bodies and their networks. The entire training will be in English; no translation will be provided.

Participant criteria

People working on improving HIV-related legal and policy environments in any of the 53 countries in the WHO Europe region are welcome to apply.  Participants will be scored based on country needs-assessment, fluency in English and links to local and national networks.

Only complete applications submitted via the online form will be accepted.


Some scholarships are available to cover all costs including flights and accommodation, or flights or accommodation only. If you wish to apply to a scholarship, please indicate this on the application form. Please note that all meals are provided to all participants.

To apply please fill in this application form (2 pages/steps) by Wednesday July 26th (23:59 CET)