[Update] Let’s ensure ending HIV criminalisation is a priority in the 2021 Political Declaration

You can’t end HIV without ending HIV criminalisation!

We must ensure that HIV criminalisation is included as a key indicator in the High-Level Meeting (HLM) 2021 Political Declaration.

It is crucial to ensure political commitment to remove laws and policies that unjustly impact people living with HIV in all of our diversities.

And so, HJN is calling on civil society to ensure that a specific focus on HIV criminalisation is included in the 2021 Political Declaration.

Today, 23 April, you can attend an interactive multi-stakeholder hearing that will be streamed live on the GNP+ Facebook page as well as on UN Web TV.  The hearing starts at 9 am in New York / 3 pm in Geneva.

You can also join the civil society debrief during the break at 12.30 pm New York / 6.30 pm Geneva if you register here.

This Civil Society Engagement Guide to the HLM 2021 includes some important engagement opportunities and places to start on this journey.

Other ways to get involved:

  • Contact key government officials engaged with the HLM to influence your country’s input into the negotiations around the Political Declaration
  • Advocate for your government to include representatives of affected communities in the country delegation to the HLM and advocate for the highest level of government representation at the HLMs
  • If your civil society organisation doesn’t already have ECOSOC status, you can register for special accreditation to participate in the HLM until this Sunday, 25 April.

April 16, 2021


HJN is urging all stakeholders engaged with the civil society dialogue on the new Global AIDS Strategy and the 2021 High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS to ensure that HIV criminalisation is included as a key indicator in the 2021 Political Declaration. We must ensure political commitment to remove laws and policies that unjustly target people living with HIV, who are often also members of other criminalised or marginalised populations.

The High-Level Meeting (HLM), which takes place between 8-10 June 2021, will review the progress made in ending HIV as public health threat since the last HLM in 2016. We expect the UN General Assembly to adopt a new political declaration to guide the future direction of the response as the world marks 40 years since the first case of AIDS was reported, and the 25th anniversary since UNAIDS was established.

As noted in the new Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026, End Inequalities, End AIDS, ending HIV criminalisation is central to ending HIV as a public health threat by 2030, noting: “Punitive laws, the absence of enabling laws and policies, and inadequate access to justice contribute to the inequalities that undermine HIV responses.”

The Strategy furthers states that HIV and other forms of criminalisation are a violation of human rights. “SDG 3 cannot be achieved if stigma, discrimination, criminalization of key populations, violence, social exclusion, and other human rights violations in the context of HIV are allowed to continue and if HIV-related inequalities persist. The evidence consistently shows that the criminalization of people living with HIV and key populations reduces service uptake and increases HIV incidence.”

HJN is therefore calling on all stakeholders to ensure that a specific focus on HIV criminalisation is included in the 2021 Political Declaration. Here’s how:

  • Contact key government officials engaged with the HLM to influence your country’s input into the negotiations around the Political Declaration
  • Advocate for your government to include representatives of affected communities in the country delegation to the HLM and advocate for the highest level of government representation at the HLMs
  • If your civil society organisation doesn’t already have ECOSOC status, you can register for special accreditation to participate in the HLM until 25 April.

And through the leadership of our HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE partner, GNP+, you can make your voice heard and included by responding to a survey that will support the development of a civil society statement with clear community recommendations to the HLM and Political Declaration.

The responses to this survey, which should take less than 10 minutes, are confidential and will only be used for the purpose of the HLM process. The closing date to submit your responses is next Tuesday, 20th April 2021.

English: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/27QGLGD
French: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/S9WWY58
Spanish: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/W9WSTJ6
Russian: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WSZBW88
Portuguese: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WJJK257


Virginia becomes eighth US state since 2012 to modernise its HIV criminalisation laws

Even as Virginia’s Governor, Ralph Northam, signed legislation late last month to modernise the US state’s HIV criminalisation laws, advocates noted that the inclusion of a felony penalty means that more work needs to be done to ensure that HIV criminalisation is finally ended in the state.

As the first US state in the South to modernise its laws (after Illinois, Iowa, Colorado, California, North Carolina, Michigan and Washington), Virginia’s Senate Bill 1138 removes a number of discriminatory laws that are often used against marginalised populations, like sex workers and people who use drugs, and helps bring HIV in line with other sexually transmitted infections for which there is preventative care and treatment.

According to NBC News, the legislation repeals the felony criminal ban on blood, tissue or organ donation by people with HIV and other sexually transmitted infections; makes HIV testing optional (rather than mandatory) for people convicted of certain ‘crimes’, including sex work and drug charges; and strikes down a statute making failure to disclose HIV-positive status before sex a crime.

HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE partners, Positive Women Network-USA (PWN) and the Sero Project (Sero), said the signing was a “culmination of over two years of organizing and advocacy led by ECHO VA–the coalition founded by Positive Women’s Network – USA Virginia State Lead Deirdre Johnson and Dr. Cedric Pulliam–with the collaboration of PWN, Equality Virginia, and the Sero Project.”

They said the signing into law is the latest achievement of the movement to end HIV criminalisation in the United States. “And it’s great news for people living with HIV and who care about ending the HIV epidemic in Virginia,” they added.

However, even as the advocates celebrated this milestone, the new law’s “intentional transmission of HIV”, or “infected sexual battery,” remains a felony in Virginia, rather than a misdemeanor, as proponents had hoped. However, the new legislation now requires proof of actual infection, rather than just an allegation of potential or perceived exposure.

This is something PWN, Sero, and their partners hope to change in the near future. “Our next steps are to continue to work with our partners… to change the felony penalty to a misdemeanor. We are also working on making sure that the news of this historical change reaches communities impacted by these changes.”

Currently, 32 US states still have laws that criminalise HIV non-disclosure and/or potential or perceived HIV exposure, but efforts are currently underway across the US, many of them supported by PWN and Sero, to modernise or repeal these outdated and unjust laws.

US: The Coverage of a recent case of HIV criminalisation in Ohio shows why the law needs to change

Dayton Man’s Arrest Shines Light on Ohio’s Outdated Laws on HIV Criminalization

The February arrest of a Dayton man is highlighting Ohio’s laws on HIV criminalization and the need for reform.

The 50-year-old Dayton resident faces charges of felony assault after police say he offered an undercover detective oral sex during a sting and didn’t reveal he “tested positive for a virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.”

The man used adult websites and telephone apps to offer free sex at his home, according to a press release issued by Dayton Police.

“[He] did so without disclosing his status as a carrier of AIDS. Investigators are concerned that there may be other persons, over a period of years, whom have interacted sexually with [him]who may also be victims,” said Cara Zinksi-Neace, spokeswoman for Dayton Police, in the press release.

In addition to conflating HIV and AIDS in the press release, the Dayton Police also included a clear picture of the man’s house and the name of his less-than-a-mile long street.

The arrest, the police press release, and the nature of the charges the man faces are evidence of a climate in Ohio that advocates of HIV decriminalization say desperately need to change.

Eight states, including nearby Michigan and Illinois, have reformed or repealed one or more parts of their HIV-specific criminal laws, but Ohio is one of 32 states that have HIV-specific criminal laws and/or sentence enhancements applicable to people living with HIV.

From the Center for HIV Law & Policy


The Laws

Ohio  currently has 6 separate statutes on the books that criminalize living with HIV, most notably a felony assault charge that specifically calls out the virus. According to Ohio’s Revised Code § 2903.11, “No person, with knowledge that the person has tested positive as a carrier of a virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, shall knowingly…engage in sexual conduct with another person without disclosing that knowledge to the other person prior to engaging in the sexual conduct.”

A conviction under the law can result in up to an 8-year prison sentence.

Additionally, people living with HIV face higher penalties if charged with crimes that involve sex work, including prostitution, solicitation, or loitering to engage in solicitation.

“Ohio’s has some of the most backwards and stigmatizing laws in the country,” says Dwayne Steward, Director of Prevention for Equitas Health, a regional nonprofit community healthcare system and one of the largest LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS serving healthcare organizations in the United States.

Steward said that these laws have been around for decades and feature outdated language stemming from the fear-based public opinion formed during the early part of the AIDS epidemic, as opposed to language derived from modern science.

“For instance, it still says in these laws that someone can be prosecuted for exchanging saliva with another person, even though we know that—scientifically—HIV can not be transmitted in this way,” explains Steward.

Kim Welter, Facilitator of the Ohio Health Modernization Movement (OHMM) working to reform the state’s statues HIV criminalization, is quick to point out one of the biggest misconceptions about the relationship between these laws and HIV transmission

“The current laws in no way require transmission,” says Welter. “You could have a situation where there is no actual harm done, but an individual with HIV could end up serving time, and actually even serve more time than someone who is arrested for the exact same offense who doesn’t have HIV.”

Dayton Arrest and Press Release

When Bryan C. Jones first heard about the Dayton arrest and read the local news coverage with the accompanying police statement—describing the arrested individual as a “carrier of AIDS”—he experienced a range of emotions. A founding member of OHMM, the news hit close to home for Jones.

“As a person who has been living with AIDS for 37 years, I was scared at first and then I was outraged,” says Jones. “A ‘carrier of AIDS’? Come on. That sounds like the language from the 80s. Those words shocked me.”

When reached by The Buckeye Flame, Zinski-Neace said the Dayton Police department does not issue press releases for every arrest, but did not explain why one was created for this arrest. The department declined to provide further comment for this story beyond what was in the press release.

Welter highlights that it compromises the man’s safety to include a photo of the man’s house on a short street the police identified and that there are details that were left out of the police report and media coverage that make a real difference with regard to outcomes. She points out that adding the Dayton man’s HIV status creates a sensationalized aspect to the story, but does not answer some key questions.

“We don’t know if he is on medication, if he is virally suppressed, if he is undetectable, or if he was engaging in activity that is likely to even have a chance of transmitting the virus,” says Welter. “We don’t know any of that. But then the coverage gives this idea that there are thousands of victims when the chance of transmitting HIV through oral sex is very, very low. It gets people to read a headline, but it’s not scientifically accurate.”

Jones agrees that the coverage does more harm than good.

“This misinformation goes counter to public health interests,” says Jones. “This exacerbates the stigma and perpetuates people living in fear.”

Reforming the Laws

The efforts to reform the laws in Ohio that criminalize HIV have been going on for years, with groups like OHMM leading the way. A critical step for their movement: raising awareness that these laws even exist.

“When I speak to people at gay pride, LGBTQ people don’t even know about these laws,” says Jones. “People living with HIV still have rights and it’s important to arm yourself with accurate information, and especially so if you are confronted with this situation.”

OHMM, in partnership in the Legal Clinic at Equality Ohio, have published materials to help educate individuals about their rights in the event of a police interaction. Tips include maintaining evidence (documents, screenshots, etc.) proving disclosure, not disclosing HIV status to law enforcement officers without a lawyer present, and not consenting to medical tests should police ask for the individual to submit to tests voluntarily.

For those individuals who may be aware of the statutes criminalizing HIV, the effects of these laws can have a direct relationship with those choosing not to get tested for HIV.

“There are people who believe if they don’t know, they can’t be prosecuted,” explains Steward. “It keeps people from engaging in healthcare and further creates health disparities.”

OHMM is hard at work partnering with other organizations hoping to introduce legislative language this Spring aimed at modernizing Ohio’s HIV criminalization statutes. All three counties participating in the national End the HIV Epidemic campaign—Cuyahoga, Franklin, and Hamilton—have included modernizing the criminal code as part of their plans. Lawmakers in Virginia recently approved legislation to modernize their HIV criminalization laws, one of 9 states actively engaging with the process of decriminalization.

Until the laws are reformed, advocates stress that knowledge about these statutes is critically important, particularly when a story like the arrest in Dayton grabs the headlines.

“Start a conversation. Tell someone else about these laws,” urges Jones. “Everyone needs to know more than they do, because the ignorance in this case can really cause serious damage.” 🔥

Ignite Action:

  • Learn more about Ohio Health Modernization Movement (OHMM) by visiting their website
  • Start a conversation with someone else about HIV decriminalization.

Honouring Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31)

Honouring Transgender Day of Visibility

The International Transgender Day of Visibility is held annually on March 31 to celebrate trans-diverse people globally and honour their courage and visibility to live openly and authentically.

This year’s 12th annual celebration is a day to also raise awareness around the stigma and discrimination that trans people still face, especially young transgender people, trans people living with HIV, trans people who are currently transitioning and are therefore more likely to be identified as transgender, and transgender sex workers.

We also acknowledge there are too many invisibilities around the impact of HIV criminalisation on trans persons. Cecilia Chung, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives and Evaluation of the Transgender Law Center, who is also a member of our Global Advisory Panel told our Beyond Blame @HIV2020 webinar that there is not enough data on the impact of HIV criminalisation laws on transgender persons. She said such data are not “uniformly collected across the world… The numbers still remain invisible even though we know for sure there are [HIV criminalisation] cases.”

Although this day primarily serves to celebrate and honour trans-diverse persons, it also offers allies an opportunity to contribute to supportive legislation, policy and financial commitment of trans-diverse communities globally.

HJN also celebrates trans-diverse people globally and we honour their courage and visibility to live openly and authentically. We also call for more visibility for trans people in data collection, including our own, as well as reforms of HIV-related criminal laws and their enforcement that disproportionately target trans-diverse people.

HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE is five years old!

The HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE (HJWW) coalition which campaigns to end HIV criminalisation around the world, will next week mark five years since its launch. It was on March 24th, 2016 when the seven HJWW founding partners and our key allies met in Brighton, UK to launch this coalition to coordinate a global response to the unjust use of criminal and similar laws against people with HIV.

The original seven founding partners were the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (now known as the HIV Legal Network), the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW), the Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA), the Sero Project (Sero) and HIV Justice Network (HJN) which co-ordinates the joint work plan and serves as the secretariat for HJWW.

At the time of the launch, HJWW wanted to end HIV criminalisation by empowering people living with HIV and those who advocate on their behalf to ensure policymakers, criminal justice actors and other relevant stakeholders abolish existing laws and oppose the passage of proposed laws designed to regulate, control, and punish people living with HIV on the basis of their HIV status.

HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE founding partners* and supporters at the launch of the coalition in Brighton, March 24th, 2016. Back row L-R: Rhon Reynolds (GNP+*), Edwin J Bernard (HIV Justice Network*), Jessica Whitbread (ICW*), Boyan Konstantinov (UNDP), Patrick Eba (UNAIDS), Sean Strub (SERO*). Front row L-R: Julian Hows (GNP+*), Sylvie Beaumont (HIV Justice Network*), Cécile Kazatchkine (Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network*), Naina Khanna (PWN-USA*) and Michaela Clayton (ARASA*).

Five years on, we have achieved some remarkable progress. What started as a core group of seven working to shape the discourse on HIV criminalisation, has now grown to include more than 110 organisations and individuals sharing information and networking; building capacity; mobilising advocacy, and cultivating a global community collaborating to address HIV criminalisation.

From working on progressive, impactful statements on HIV science and the criminal law, and on COVID-19, to providing technical support to challenge proposed laws and strike down existing laws in various countries, to training advocates on how to work with the media, HJWW has also joined with other movements to highlight the intersectional aspects of HIV criminalisation with other key populations, as well as with movements for gender, racial and migrant justice, including during its flagship meeting, Beyond Blame.

However, although some progress has been made in preventing new laws from being passed, and reforming or repealing HIV criminalisation laws, many countries around the world continue to enforce a wide range of unjust laws against people living with HIV.

There’s still so much more to do, and we can do more when we collaborate. Why not join the movement? An an individual, network, or organisation you can help to make HIV justice worldwide a reality!

Russia: The deportation of people living with HIV is outdated, bad for public health and economically ineffective

“He sees his children only by video link.” How the law to deport migrants with HIV turns foreigners into illegal immigrants and destroys families

Automatic Google translation, for original article in Russian, please scroll down.

Author: Ekaterina Ivaschenko

Russia is one of 19 countries in the world where HIV is the basis for deportation. In practice, when migrants find out about their positive status, they do not leave, but turn into illegal immigrants and are afraid to seek treatment. Those who report themselves can be expelled even if they have a family in Russia – although this has been banned since 2015.

We will tell you why the law on deportation harms not only the migrants themselves, but also the economy of Russia, as well as the health of all its inhabitants, regardless of citizenship.

Sardor is 24 years old. He came to work in Russia from Kyrgyzstan nine years ago, at the age of 15. His mother was the first to leave for Russia – after her husband and her three children were abandoned. Sardor did not get along with his father and stepmother, so after the eighth grade he came to his mother. The teenager was sent by bus through Kazakhstan, leaving the driver with a power of attorney.

“I dreamed of getting a good education, becoming a doctor, but in the end, when I came to Russia, I did not speak a word of Russian,” Sardor says. Until the age of 16, he worked at a brick factory in a village near Novosibirsk, then returned to his homeland, received a passport and returned to Russia.

Three years ago, Sardor moved to Moscow, where he worked in various fields, from a janitor to a cook. He found out about his HIV status last year when he got seriously ill in winter and was tested. A specialised NGO (nongovernmental organisation) helps him to receive antiretroviral therapy. The young man does not want to return to his homeland: he says that there is discrimination against HIV-infected people. He also does not tell his relatives about his status.

How deportation law turns migrants into illegal immigrants

For years, specialised NGOs and human rights activists have been fighting for the right of people like Sardor to live in Russia without the threat of deportation. But Russia remains one of 19 countries in the world from which HIV-positive foreigners are expelled . These restrictions are spelled out in the law “On Preventing the Spread of Disease Caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus in the Russian Federation”, adopted back in 1995 .

If a person takes an HIV test officially: for example, to obtain a patent or apply for citizenship, his data goes to Rospotrebnadzor, which makes a decision on the undesirability of a foreigner’s stay in Russia and sends the document to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Since in such cases people have to leave the country on their own, they often remain in Russia illegally. Those who know about this norm in advance take the test anonymously. In case of a positive result, they can cross the border to receive treatment at home, but do not draw up documents.

The coordinator for academic relations of the Regional Expert Group on the Health of Migrants Daniil Kashnitsky explains that in practice the rule on the deportation of HIV-infected foreigners does not work, because deportation itself is expensive even for Russia, the richest state in the region: “After Rospotrebnadzor decides on Deportation of a person is sent to the Ministry of Internal Affairs for execution, but it is impossible to find a person, because he often does not live at the place of registration, plus the deportation itself costs money, to which is added the cost of keeping people in TsVSIGs . And people with HIV-positive status, realising that, for example, they cannot get a patent for work and it is better not to leave the country, because they will never be able to return, they go into illegality. ”

The hidden HIV epidemic: statistics and causes

In 2021, the Financial Research Institute of the Ministry of Finance of Russia published a socio-economic study of state policy on HIV , which also mentions migrants.

The document says that “one of the components of the problem of high levels of HIV incidence among the population of Russia may be the growing scale of the latent epidemic, formed mostly by migrants from Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine. status”.

“As of 2018, foreign citizens accounted for only 2.1% of new cases of HIV infection, but the Ministry of Internal Affairs data on the number of illegal migrants does not allow us to say that official statistics reflect the true picture of the incidence and prevalence of HIV infection among foreign citizens, “the study says.

The authors of the document say directly that the underlying epidemic is based on the current legal status of HIV-infected migrants: “Under the conditions of Russian legislation, which imposes restrictions on entry and stay on the territory of the country for HIV-infected people, foreign citizens are forced to hide their status, which is a significant threat for the development of a latent epidemic “.

“I read this report, and I was confused by this quote,” says Daniil Kashnitsky, explaining that he means the authors of the report assertion that “one of the components of the problem of high levels of HIV incidence among the Russian population may be the growing scale of a hidden epidemic formed mostly by migrants from Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine “.

“It is wrong to say that migrants are contributing to the epidemic. If migration is well organised, then this is an extremely positive process from all sides. Not migration is a risk factor, but the circumstances in which migrants find themselves and the laws that are in force in the receiving country, in our case, in Russia, “emphasises Kashnitsky.

The available figures for migrants are really low, especially in comparison with the general data for Russia, where 1.2% of the adult population is infected with HIV . According to Rospotrebnadzor, 2.5 million foreigners were tested for HIV in Russia in 2017. Among the citizens of the neighbouring countries, 32,885 HIV cases were detected, 70% of the detected infected were from Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. “In 2014-2015, 4000-4500 new cases of HIV infection were detected among foreign citizens, mainly from Ukraine, who traveled to Russia en masse. Now about 3500 cases are detected a year. But there are more migrants with HIV, because some of them are tested anonymously, and some avoid testing, knowing that they are infected, “the representative of Rospotrebnadzor said at the time.

An interesting situation is with Turkmenistan, which officially reported two cases of HIV infection in the country. At the same time, on the territory of Russia in 2017, Rospotrebnadzor recorded 136 cases of HIV infection among citizens of this country, although the flow of migrants from there is small.

A separate situation for the citizens of Kyrgyzstan. The fact is that the country is a member of the EAEU, therefore, unlike Uzbeks and Tajiks, its citizens do not receive a patent for which they need to take an HIV test.

Helping people with HIV is cheaper than treating AIDS. Who does it

The fact that foreigners with HIV remain in Russia is evidenced, for example, by the data of the Patient Control movement : “In 2020, thanks to the donations provided and the joint efforts of HIV activists, 449 people from 19 countries received ARVs on the territory of Russia, of them: Tajikistan – 88, Kyrgyzstan – 67, Uzbekistan – 33, Kazakhstan – 20 and Turkmenistan – 2 “.

Kirill Barskiy, program coordinator of the Steps Foundation, one of the few Russian nongovernmental organisations that helps HIV-positive migrants, says that foreigners have been turning to them for help since the foundation was founded in 2004. In 2020 alone, more than 2,000 people. People who contacted the fund wanted to anonymously take a test for HIV, hepatitis and even coronavirus, get advice on their health, and also sought help in finding therapy.

36-year-old Kemal is one of those who “Steps” literally helped to get back on their feet. Kemal ended up in Russia 10 years ago. I came from Turkmenistan to earn money under the pretext of studying – otherwise it was impossible to get here because of the visa regime between the countries. The young man really studied at the university, and at night he worked as a loader, cook, waiter to pay for his studies.

Kemal learned about his HIV status in 2014, when he updated his medical book and passed an HIV test. “I didn’t immediately understand what it was: they didn’t give me a medical book, well, okay. 2,000 rubles in cash, “says Kemal.

The man got worse every month. He dropped out of school but continued to work. At some point, it became very bad, and he went to the hospital. “As I later found out, HIV had already spilled over into AIDS and I had Kaposi’s sarcoma,” says Kemal. Thanks to the work of the foundation’s staff, he was able to recover and start taking antiretroviral drugs.

“Now I work in those jobs where a medical book and a contract are not needed. Every day I take therapy. It costs 10 thousand rubles a month – a significant amount for an illegal migrant. But I have HIV, with which I can live in Moscow, but in Turkmenistan is not, because they deny the presence of HIV-infected, “- explains the man.

The abolition of the deportation rule is beneficial even economically, says Daniil Kashnitsky: it will enable migrants to take therapy on time, and HIV will not turn into AIDS, which develops serious and costly diseases.

“When life is threatened, a person is subject to emergency treatment, which is provided to everyone in Russia free of charge. According to our data, inpatient treatment of a person with HIV-associated diseases will cost Russia three times more than if he buys the therapy himself or receives it for AIDS. -the center of his state, – explains the expert. – The principle itself is important here: a person takes therapy – and in three months his viral load drops to zero. He will not transmit HIV through unprotected sex, he can give birth to healthy children, work and pay taxes. not being treated, he develops one of the concomitant diseases – and the cost of treatment, already from the Russian budget, will be at least three times more expensive than a year’s course of therapy. ”

Kirill Barskiy, the coordinator of the Steps Foundation, emphasises that the authorities’ attempt to control does not work with any disease: “People will still hide. Do not forget that HIV infection has a window period of six months when the virus is not detected. that the authorities have to wait six months for a second test, at the same time prohibiting the migrant from any contacts. But this is impossible. Therefore, mechanisms are needed to control the process of treatment of foreigners. In fact, no one knows the real statistics of HIV-positive migrants in Russia. Accordingly, we do not know how many are taking treatment and controlling the disease, and how many are not. If a person is not expelled, he will not hide, and this will make it possible to build a system for monitoring his disease and preventing its spread. ”

Deportation of relatives with HIV: banned since 2015, but ongoing

NGOs and the community have long been fighting for the complete abolition of the deportation rule, says Daniil Kashnitsky. The first letter with such an initiative was sent to the government in May 2018, then they turned to relevant government agencies.

“We have received replies to all our letters, but these are polite enumerations of the norms of Russian legislation concerning foreigners with HIV. The letters invariably mention the norm that foreigners with HIV, whose relatives are Russian citizens, may remain in Russia. In practice, only a few have managed to achieve this. , therefore, the norm must be abolished entirely, because it is bad for migrants, for Russia and its budget. There is not a single plus in maintaining this norm, “Kashnitsky is sure.

The ruling of the Constitutional Court that if an HIV-positive foreigner has a spouse, children or parents who are Russian citizens, then he cannot be expelled from the country, was adopted in 2015. However, in reality, lawyers have been fighting for years for the rights of HIV-infected foreigners to live with their families in Russia.

Alisher, originally from Andijan, came to Russia in 2013 after his parents. His father already has Russian citizenship. At first, the man lived with his parents in one of the regions, and then moved to Moscow, where he met a Russian woman.

In 2015, they had a daughter with Alisher, and in 2016, a son. The marriage was not registered, but Alisher is listed as a father in the birth certificates of the children. In 2017, the man decided to apply for a temporary residence permit in Russia (RVP) for marriage. To do this, it was required to pass an HIV test, which turned out to be positive.

The man did not know that the entrance to the country was closed for HIV-positive migrants, and after another flight to his homeland, he was not allowed to enter Russia. It was in the spring of 2018. The wife appealed against the decision of Rospotrebnadzor in the district court of Khabarovsk, at the place of permanent registration of Alisher. But in December 2019, the judge left the decision of the migration authorities unchanged.

“I have been in charge of this case for several years,” says Olga Belousova, a lawyer who assists migrants in similar situations. “Now his wife has hired a lawyer who represents Alisher’s interests in Russian courts. …

Such cases last at least a year, notes Olga Belousova. And there are times when the deportation rule leads to sad consequences. The lawyer tells how she handled the case of an HIV-infected girl from Ukraine, who in Russia received a residence permit on her father’s side. At the stage of taking the tests, the girl was diagnosed with HIV, issued a document obliging her to leave Russia, and put a lifelong entry ban. In 2019 she returned to Ukraine.

“The girl had the right to be in Russia. She contacted us, we completed all the documents on time, but at the trial we were told that we were late and did not cancel the decision of Rospotrebnadzor. Against the background of this news, her father had a heart attack, and in August He died in 2019. My applicant was unable to bury him or visit her relatives, “Olga Belousova said.

But there are stories with happy endings. Now a lawyer is working on the case of a woman from Kazakhstan who, together with her husband and two children, applied for citizenship under the resettlement program.

“They were refused because the woman was diagnosed with HIV. She decided to divorce in order to give her husband and children an opportunity to obtain citizenship. She lived in Kazakhstan for a year and did not see her children, did not take part in their upbringing. After the husband and children received citizenship, the family decided to recover. We submitted a request to Rospotrebnadzor to find out about the woman’s position, and we received an answer that she was not on the lists of those who were denied entry to Russia, since during the pandemic the adoption of such decisions was suspended. She has Russian relatives, and the family will finally be reunited. ”

Why the deportation norm is not only outdated, but also economically unprofitable for Russia

The coordinator of the Regional Expert Group on the Health of Migrants Daniil Kashnitsky emphasises that the law on HIV adopted in 1995 was long out of date: “Then the deportation rule was prescribed, because there was no effective treatment for either foreigners or Russians, and people with HIV were quickly dying. Thanks to modern drugs, which, moreover, become cheaper every year, treating people is much more profitable than driving them out of the country. ”

Kirill Barsky from the Steps Foundation says that during negotiations with the community, the authorities operate with the fact that “foreigners are spreading the infection”, although no one can verify and prove this.

“However, the main counterargument comes not from the deputies, but from the economic departments, which believe that they will have to pay for the treatment of foreigners from the state budget,” says Barsky. for a start, it was possible to carry out surveillance of a real disease. And for this it is necessary to remove protective measures so that people are not afraid to go to hospitals. ”

“It is impossible to talk about building a system of assistance to HIV-positive foreigners at the expense of the countries of origin of migrants or the Global Fund, as long as there is a rule on deportation,” continues Kirill Barsky. “People are afraid to seek help. In principle, they do not want to talk to doctors, fearing, that at any moment they will be put in the CVDIG and sent home.Migrants are in a situation where they understand that they need help, and often they can pay for therapy themselves, but cannot tell about it, because they understand what the consequences could be. Often, even the citizens of the EAEU countries, who do not need to take an HIV test to obtain a patent, live well here and receive therapy from their homeland, but they are still afraid to get to the clinic, because they are at risk of being deported. ”

Daniil Kashnitsky, who works with representatives of AIDS centers in the countries of origin of migrants, notes that Russia should not be afraid that if the deportation rule is canceled, the costs of treating foreigners will fall on its budget: “Employees of AIDS centers in Central Asian countries are not only ready to share therapy, they They are already doing this. They send therapy to their migrants, regardless of their status of residence in Russia. For example, during the closed borders, Kyrgyzstan gave therapy to his hands for up to a year. so he knows what’s going on with his patient. ”

Kirill Barskiy confirms that the countries of origin (NGOs contacted the Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and other states) answered that they were ready to treat their citizens. Kyrgyzstan gave a detailed answer that it is ready to discuss these initiatives between the countries and, if necessary, to adopt appropriate changes to the legislation.

“In order for Russian officials to change their minds about HIV among foreigners, our experts are preparing an economic argument that the benefits of removing barriers are much higher than their existence. All civilised countries have removed barriers, and the countries of North America and Europe are even treating at their own expense foreigners, because they understand how it is economically beneficial for them. We are not opposing the state, but we are promoting a scientific justification for the need to revise the deportation rule, “Kirill Barsky concludes.

Екатерина Иващенко

“Видит своих детей только по видеосвязи”. Как закон о депортации мигрантов с ВИЧ превращает иностранцев в нелегалов и разрушает семьи

Россия – одна из 19 стран в мире, где ВИЧ – основание для депортации. На практике мигранты, узнавая о своем положительном статусе, не уезжают, а превращаются в нелегалов и боятся обращаться за лечением. Те, кто сообщает о себе, могут быть высланы, даже если в России у них есть семья, – хотя с 2015 года это запрещено.

Рассказываем, почему закон о депортации вредит не только самим мигрантам, но и экономике России, а также здоровью всех ее жителей, независимо от гражданства.

Сардору 24 года. Он приехал на заработки в Россию из Кыргызстана девять лет назад, 15-летним. Первой в Россию уехала его мать – после того как ее и троих детей бросил супруг. Сардор не ужился с отцом и мачехой, поэтому после восьмого класса приехал к матери. Подростка отправили автобусом через Казахстан, оставив водителю доверенность.

“Я мечтал получить хорошее образование, стать врачом, а в итоге, когда приехал в Россию, ни слова не говорил по-русски”, – говорит Сардор. До 16 лет он работал на кирпичном заводе в деревне под Новосибирском, потом вернулся на родину, получил паспорт и снова приехал в Россию.

Три года назад Сардор перебрался в Москву, где работал в самых разных сферах, начиная от дворника и заканчивая поваром. Про свой ВИЧ-статус он узнал в прошлом году, когда серьезно заболел зимой и сдавал анализы. Получать антиретровирусную терапию ему помогает профильная НПО (неправительственная организация). Возвращаться на родину молодой человек не хочет: говорит, что там по отношению к ВИЧ-инфицированным существует дискриминация. Родственникам о своем статусе он тоже не говорит.

Как закон о депортации превращает мигрантов в нелегалов

Профильные НПО и правозащитники годами бьются за право таких, как Сардор, жить в России без угрозы депортации. Но Россия остается одной из 19 стран мира, откуда выдворяют ВИЧ-положительных иностранцев. Эти ограничения прописаны в принятом еще в 1995 году законе “О предупреждении распространения в Российской Федерации заболевания, вызываемого вирусом иммунодефицита человека”.

Если человек сдает тест на ВИЧ официально: например, для получения патента или оформления документов на гражданство, – его данные попадают в Роспотребнадзор, который выносит решение о нежелательности пребывания иностранца на территории России и отправляет документ в МВД. Так как в таких случаях люди должны самостоятельно покинуть страну, они чаще всего остаются в России нелегально. Те, кто знает об этой норме заранее, сдают тест анонимно. В случае положительного результата они могут пересекать границу, чтобы получать лечение на родине, но не оформляют документы.

Координатор по академическим связям Региональной экспертной группы по здоровью мигрантов Даниил Кашницкий объясняет, что на практике норма о депортации ВИЧ-инфицированных иностранцев не работает, потому что сама депортация дорога даже для России – самого богатого государства в регионе: “После того как Роспотребнадзор принимает решение о выдворении человека, оно отправляется на выполнение в МВД. Но человека невозможно найти, потому что он чаще всего проживает не по месту регистрации, плюс сама депортация стоит денег, к которой добавляется стоимость содержания людей в ЦВСИГах. То есть из России их насильно не выдворяют. А люди с ВИЧ-положительным статусом, понимая, что им, например, не получить патент для работы и лучше не покидать страну, потому что они никогда не смогут вернуться, уходят в нелегальность”.

Скрытая эпидемия ВИЧ: статистика и причины

В 2021 году Научно-исследовательский финансовый институт Минфина России обнародовал социально-экономическое исследование государственной политики борьбы с ВИЧ, в котором в том числе упоминаются мигранты.

В документе сказано, что “одной из составляющих проблемы высоких уровней заболеваемости населения России ВИЧ-инфекцией могут являться растущие масштабы скрытой эпидемии, формируемой по большей части мигрантами из Молдовы, Таджикистана, Узбекистана, Украины. В условиях действующего законодательства представители подобной группы населения вынуждены скрывать свой статус”.

“По данным на 2018 год, на долю иностранных граждан приходилось только 2,1% новых случаев выявления ВИЧ-инфекции, но данные МВД по количеству нелегальных мигрантов не позволяют говорить о том, что официальная статистика отражает истинную картину заболеваемости и распространенности ВИЧ-инфекции среди иностранных граждан”, – говорится в исследовании.

Авторы документа прямо говорят, что в основе скрытой эпидемии лежит текущее правовое положение ВИЧ-инфицированных мигрантов: “В условиях российского законодательства, предполагающего ограничение на въезд и пребывание на территории страны для инфицированных ВИЧ, иностранные граждане вынуждены скрывать свой статус, что представляет собой существенную угрозу для развития скрытой эпидемии”.

“Я читал этот доклад, и меня смутила эта цитата”, – говорит Даниил Кашницкий, объясняя, что имеет в виду утверждение авторов доклада о том, что “одной из составляющих проблемы высоких уровней заболеваемости населения России ВИЧ-инфекцией могут являться растущие масштабы скрытой эпидемии, формируемой по большей части мигрантами из Молдовы, Таджикистана, Узбекистана, Украины”.

“Говорить, что мигранты вносят вклад в эпидемию, неправильно. Если миграция хорошо организована, то это со всех сторон исключительно положительный процесс. Не миграция фактор риска, а те обстоятельства, в которые попадают мигранты, и те законы, которые действуют в стране приема, в нашем случае в России”, – подчеркивает Кашницкий.

Имеющиеся цифры по мигрантам действительно невысокие, особенно в сравнении с общими данными по России, 1,2% взрослого населения которой инфицировано ВИЧ. По информации Роспотребнадзора, в 2017 году в России на ВИЧ было протестировано 2,5 миллиона иностранцев. Среди граждан стран ближнего зарубежья выявлено 32 885 случаев ВИЧ, 70% выявленных инфицированных – из Украины, Узбекистана и Таджикистана. “В 2014-2015 годы выявлялось по 4000-4500 новых случае ВИЧ-инфекции среди иностранных граждан, преимущественно Украины, которые массово ехали в Россию. Сейчас выявляется порядка 3500 случаев в год. Но мигрантов с ВИЧ больше, потому что часть из них сдает анализы анонимно, а часть избегает тестирования, зная, что они инфицированы”, – говорил тогда представитель Роспотребнадзора.

Интересна ситуация с Туркменистаном, который официально докладывал о двух случаях ВИЧ-инфекции на территории страны. При этом на территории России в 2017 году Роспотребнадзор зафиксировал 136 случаев ВИЧ-инфекции среди граждан этой страны, хотя поток мигрантов оттуда небольшой.

Отдельное положение у граждан Кыргызстана. Дело в том, что страна входит в ЕАЭС, поэтому, в отличие от узбекистанцев и таджикистанцев, ее граждане не получают патент, для которого нужно сдавать тест на ВИЧ.

Помогать людям с ВИЧ дешевле, чем лечить от СПИДа. Кто это делает

О том, что иностранцы с ВИЧ остаются в России, свидетельствуют, например, данные движения “Пациентский контроль”: “В 2020 году благодаря предоставленным пожертвованиям и объединенному усилию ВИЧ-активистов помощь на территории России с АРВ-препаратами получили 449 человек из 19 стран, из них: Таджикистана – 88, Кыргызстана – 67, Узбекистана – 33, Казахстана – 20 и Туркменистана – 2”.

Кирилл Барский, координатор программ фонда “Шаги” – одной из немногих российских неправительственных организаций, которые помогают ВИЧ-положительным мигрантам, – рассказывает, что иностранцы обращаются к ним за помощью с момента основания фонда в 2004 году. Только в 2020 году – более 2000 человек. Обратившиеся в фонд люди хотели анонимно сдать тест на ВИЧ, гепатит и даже коронавирус, получить консультацию на тему своего здоровья, а также искали помощи в поиске терапии.

36-летний Кемаль – один из тех, кому “Шаги” буквально помогли встать на ноги. Кемаль оказался в России 10 лет назад. Приехал из Туркменистана на заработки под предлогом учебы – по-другому сюда было не попасть из-за визового режима между странами. Молодой человек действительно учился в вузе, а по ночам работал грузчиком, поваром, официантом, чтобы оплачивать обучение.

Про свой ВИЧ-статус Кемаль узнал в 2014 году, когда обновлял медкнижку и сдал тест на ВИЧ. “Я не сразу понял, что это такое: не дали медкнижку, ну и ладно. Но без нее с работы уволили, еще и последнюю зарплату не выплатили. Я устроился работать уборщиком в ночной клуб. Работал без договора, зато каждый день получал 1500-2000 рублей наличными”, – рассказывает Кемаль.

С каждым месяцем мужчине становилось хуже. Он бросил учебу, но продолжал работать. В какой-то момент стало совсем плохо, и он обратился в больницу. “Как я потом узнал, ВИЧ уже перетекал в СПИД и у меня началась саркома Капоши”, – говорит Кемаль. Благодаря работе сотрудников фонда ему удалось вылечиться и начать принимать антиретровирусные препараты.

“Сейчас я работаю на тех работах, где не нужна медкнижка и договор. Каждый день принимаю терапию. На нее уходит 10 тысяч рублей в месяц – существенная сумма для нелегального мигранта. Но у меня ВИЧ, с которым в Москве я могу жить, а в Туркменистане нет, потому что там отрицают наличие ВИЧ-инфицированных”, – объясняет мужчина.

Отмена нормы о депортации выгодна даже экономически, считает Даниил Кашницкий: она даст возможность мигрантам вовремя принимать терапию, и ВИЧ не перейдет в СПИД, при котором развиваются тяжелые и дорогостоящие заболевания.

“При угрозе жизни человек подпадает под лечение по экстренной помощи, которая в России оказывается всем бесплатно. Согласно нашим данным, России обойдется в три раза дороже стационарное лечение человека с ВИЧ-ассоциированными заболеваниями, чем если он будет сам покупать терапию или получать ее от СПИД-центра своего государства, – объясняет эксперт. – Тут важен сам принцип: человек принимает терапию – и за три месяца его вирусная нагрузка снижается до нуля. Он не передаст ВИЧ при незащищенном сексе, может рожать здоровых детей, работать и платить налоги. Либо человек не лечится, у него развивается одно из сопутствующих заболеваний – и расходы на лечение, уже из российского бюджета, будут как минимум в три раза дороже годового курса терапии”.

Координатор фонда “Шаги” Кирилл Барский подчеркивает, что попытка контроля со стороны властей не работает ни с каким заболеванием: “Люди все равно будут прятаться. Не стоит забывать, что у ВИЧ-инфекции есть период окна в полгода, когда вирус не выявляется. Получается, что власти должны ждать полгода повторного теста, параллельно запрещая мигранту любые контакты. Но это невозможно. Поэтому нужны механизмы, которые будут контролировать процесс лечения иностранцев. На самом деле никто не знает реальную статистику ВИЧ-позитивных мигрантов в России. Соответственно, мы не знаем, сколько принимает лечение и контролирует заболевание, а сколько – нет. Если человека не будут выдворять, то он не будет прятаться, и это даст возможность выстроить систему наблюдения за его заболеванием и предотвращением ее распространения”.

Депортация родственников с ВИЧ: запрещена с 2015-го, но продолжается

НПО и сообщество давно борются за полную отмену нормы о депортации, рассказывает Даниил Кашницкий. Первое письмо с такой инициативой отправили в правительство в мае 2018 года, затем обратились и в профильные госорганы.

“На все свои письма мы получили ответы, но это вежливые перечисления норм российского законодательства, касающиеся иностранцев с ВИЧ. Неизменно в письмах упоминают норму, что в России могут остаться иностранцы с ВИЧ, родственники которых – граждане России. На практике лишь единицам удалось этого добиться, поэтому норму надо отменять целиком, потому что это плохо для мигрантов, для России и ее бюджета. В сохранении этой нормы нет ни одного плюса”, – уверен Кашницкий.

Постановление Конституционного суда о том, что если у ВИЧ-положительного иностранца есть супруг, дети или родители – граждане России, то его нельзя выдворять из страны, принято в 2015 году. Однако в реальности юристы годами борются за права ВИЧ-инфицированных иностранцев жить со своей семьей в России.

Алишер родом из Андижана, в Россию приехал в 2013 году вслед за своими родителями. У его отца уже есть гражданство России. Первое время мужчина жил с родителями в одном из регионов, а потом переехал в Москву, где познакомился с россиянкой.

В 2015 году у них с Алишером родилась дочь, а в 2016-м – сын. Брак не был зарегистрирован, но в свидетельствах о рождении детей Алишер указан как отец. В 2017 году мужчина решил подать документы на получение разрешения на временное проживание в России (РВП) по браку. Для этого требовалось сдать анализ на ВИЧ, который оказался положительным.

Мужчина не знал, что для ВИЧ-положительных мигрантов закрывают въезд в страну, и после очередного полета на родину в Россию его не впустили. Это было весной 2018 года. Супруга обжаловала решение Роспотребнадзора в районном суде Хабаровска, по месту постоянной регистрации Алишера. Но в декабре 2019 года судья оставила решение миграционных властей без изменений.

“Я курирую это дело уже несколько лет, – говорит юрист Ольга Белоусова, которая оказывает помощь мигрантам, попавшим в подобные ситуации. – Сейчас его жена наняла адвоката, который представляет интересы Алишера в российских судах. А пока он видит своих детей только по видеосвязи”.

Такие дела длятся минимум год, отмечает Ольга Белоусова. И бывают случаи, когда норма о депортации приводит к печальным последствиям. Юрист рассказывает, как вела дело ВИЧ-инфицированной девушки из Украины, которая в России получала вид на жительство по отцу. На этапе сдачи анализов у девушки обнаружили ВИЧ, выдали документ, обязывающий покинуть Россию, и поставили пожизненный запрет на въезд. В 2019 году она вернулась в Украину.

“Девушка имела право находиться в России. Она связалась с нами, все документы мы оформили в срок, но на суде нам сказали, что мы опоздали, и не отменили решение Роспотребнадзора. На фоне этих новостей у ее отца случился сердечный приступ, и в августе 2019 года он скончался. Моя заявительница не смогла ни похоронить его, ни приехать к родственникам”, – рассказала Ольга Белоусова.

Но есть истории и со счастливым концом. Сейчас юрист ведет дело женщины из Казахстана, которая вместе с мужем и двумя детьми подавала на гражданство по программе переселения.

“Им отказали, так как у женщины обнаружили ВИЧ. Она решила развестись, чтобы дать возможность мужу и детям получить гражданство. Год жила в Казахстане и не видела своих детей, не принимала участие в их воспитании. После получения гражданства мужем и детьми семья решила восстановиться. Мы подали запрос в Роспотребнадзор, чтобы узнать о положении женщины, и нам пришел ответ, что ее нет в списках тех, кому закрыт въезд в Россию, так как на время пандемии принятие таких решений было приостановлено. Теперь мы срочно готовим документы, что у нее есть родственники-россияне, и семья наконец-то воссоединится”.

Почему норма депортации не только устарела, но и экономически невыгодна России

Координатор Региональной экспертной группы по здоровью мигрантов Даниил Кашницкий подчеркивает, что принятый в 1995 году закон о ВИЧ давно устарел: “Тогда норма о депортации была прописана, потому что не было эффективного лечения ни для иностранцев, ни для россиян и люди с ВИЧ быстро умирали. Благодаря современным препаратам, которые к тому же с каждым годом становятся дешевле, лечить людей намного выгоднее, чем выгонять из страны”.

Кирилл Барский из фонда “Шаги” рассказывает, что во время переговоров с сообществом власти оперируют тем, что “иностранцы распространяют инфекцию”, хотя никто не может это проверить и доказать.

“Однако основная контраргументация идет со стороны не депутатов, а экономических ведомств, которые считают, что платить за лечение иностранцев придется из средств госбюджета, – говорит Барский. – Никто из этих ведомств не рассматривает возможность дать этим людям обнаружиться и быть в законном поле, чтобы для начала можно было осуществить надзор за реальным заболеванием. А для этого надо снять заградительные меры, чтобы люди не боялись обращаться в больницы”.

“Невозможно говорить о выстраивании оказания системы помощи ВИЧ-положительным иностранцам за счет стран исхода мигрантов или Глобального фонда, пока существует норма о депортации, – продолжает Кирилл Барский. – Люди боятся обращаться за помощью. Они в принципе не хотят разговаривать с врачами, боясь, что в любую секунду их посадят в ЦВСИГ и отправят на родину. Мигранты находятся в такой ситуации, когда понимают, что им нужна помощь, и зачастую сами могут оплачивать терапию, но не могут про это рассказать, потому что понимают, какие могут быть последствия. Нередко даже граждане стран ЕАЭС, которым не надо сдавать тест на ВИЧ для получения патента, прекрасно здесь живут и получают терапию с родины, но все равно боятся попасть в поликлинику, потому что подвержены риску быть депортированными”.

Сотрудничающий с представителями СПИД-центров стран исхода мигрантов Даниил Кашницкий отмечает, что Россия не должна бояться, что в случае отмены нормы о депортации расходы на лечение иностранцев лягут на ее бюджет: “Сотрудники СПИД-центров стран Центральной Азии не только готовы делиться терапией, они уже это делают. Они своим мигрантам, независимо от их статуса проживания в России, отправляют терапию через родственников. Например, во время закрытых границ Кыргызстан выдавал терапию на руки до года. Единственно, раз полгода человек должен отправлять лечащему врачу результаты своих тестов на ВИЧ, чтобы он знал, что происходит с его пациентом”.

Кирилл Барский подтверждает, что страны исхода (НКО обращались в Минздрав Узбекистана, Кыргызстана, Молдовы и других государств) ответили, что готовы лечить своих граждан. Кыргызстан дал развернутый ответ, что готов обсуждать эти инициативы между странами и, если потребуется, принять соответствующие изменения в законодательство.

“Чтобы российские чиновники могли изменить мнение о ВИЧ среди иностранцев, наши эксперты готовят экономическую аргументацию того, что выгода от снятия заградительных мер гораздо выше, чем их существование. Все цивилизованные страны сняли заградительные меры, а страны Северной Америки и Европы даже за свой счет лечат иностранцев, потому что понимают, как это экономически выгодно им. Мы не противостоим государству, а продвигаем научное обоснование необходимости пересмотра нормы о депортации”, – заключает Кирилл Барский.

Celebrating positive women and challenging HIV criminalisation on International Women’s Day

Women are often seen both as victims and perpetrators in regard to HIV criminalisation. There are, at least, ten reasons why HIV criminalisation harms women including, “negative public health outcomes, increased gender-based violence, and greater social and political inequalities for women.”

Consequently, women – especially women who experience racism, sex workers, sexual and gender minority women, those living with disabilities, refugees, and women who use drugs – are impacted by HIV criminalisation in a number of ways, and are often multiply criminalised due to their intersecting identities.

It is against this backdrop that, every year, we mark International Women’s Day on 8th March. The day celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is ‘Choose To Challenge‘. The theme is important in terms of HIV criminalisation as it is a call to all stakeholders – including governments – to protect the human rights of all women living with HIV.

Next week, some of our HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE partners are hosting events to commemorate this day.

For the AIDS & Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), International Women’s Day is a time to challenge HIV criminalisation against women, who historically, have been disproportionately prosecuted under HIV criminal laws.

This International Women’s Rights Day we #ChooseToChallenge HIV criminalisation because evidence has shown that women, especially in East and Southern Africa have been at higher risk of prosecution under HIV criminalisation laws. Women living with HIV have been stigmatised and discriminated against because of the HIV status in families and communities. HIV criminalisation leads to negative public health outcomes, increased gender-based violence, and greater inequalities for women.”

ARASA will also host a webinar titled “#ChooseToChallenge – Young African Women Fighting for Bodily Autonomy and Integrity.” Together with ATHENA Network, they will co-host a Twitter chat, under the “#WhatGirlsWant” campaign titled: “Disability, leadership, and sexuality”: how girls and women living with disabilities dream of, engage in and enjoy (or not) sex, what do they want the world to know about their sexuality and leadership capabilities?

Register here

Later in the week, Positive Women’s Network-USA (PWN-USA) and other Black women leaders in the HIV movement will be launching the first annual Celebrate and Honor Black Women in the HIV Movement Day on 12th March. PWN-USA want to honour the expertise of Black women working for, and volunteering with, HIV organisations; support and fund Black women-led organisations, and demand a US HIV response that centres upon the needs and leadership of Black transgender and cisgender women.

Register here

Editorial: “Leave no-one behind” when working to end HIV criminalisation

An editorial published to coincide with Zero Discrimination Day (March 1) by leaders in the HIV Justice movement celebrates “the courage and commitment of the growing global community of advocates, human rights defenders and others around the world who are challenging laws, policies and practices that inappropriately and unjustly criminalize people living with HIV”, but warns that this work must include and benefit those populations who are the most marginalised, and who remain most vulnerable to prosecution, despite advances in HIV science that are being used to challenge and modernise these laws.

Writing in the Journal of the International AIDS Society, the authors – who include HJN’s Executive Director, Edwin J Bernard; HJN’s Supervisory Board member, Michaela Clayton; and HJN’s Global Advisory Panel member, Edwin Cameron, along with Chris Beyrer, Desmond M. Tutu Professor of Public Health and Human Rights at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and GNP+’s Alexandra Volgina – note that despite many advances in the science of HIV there remains one area that is still an “all too common a threat to the lives and wellbeing of people living with HIV, as well as to the goal of ending the epidemic” – HIV criminalisation.

HIV criminalisation describes the unjust application of criminal and similar laws to people living with HIV ostensibly based on their HIV status, either via HIV‐specific criminal statutes or general criminal or other laws.

Citing data collated from HJN’s global case monitoring which suggests that HIV criminalisation intersects with “discrimination or criminalization on the basis of ethnicity, sex, gender identity, immigration status, sex work, sexuality and/or substance use,” they note that HIV criminalisation can be seen as a “surrogate marker for state‐sponsored stigma and discrimination against marginalized groups of people at higher risk of HIV.”

The editorial also addresses public health and healthcare workers who are often viewed as an extension of the criminal justice system by marginalised populations. “We are also seeing a frightening trend of prosecutions being initiated by those working in healthcare or public health without specific complaints. In some cases, police were notified of a person’s HIV diagnosis by health authorities, which then became a prompt to investigate the person’s relationship with their partner.”

Relatively few countries have repealed or modernised their laws, although efforts are currently underway across the globe, assisted by the 2018 publication of the Expert consensus statement on the science of HIV in the context of criminal law authored by 20 of the world’s leading HIV scientists, including Professor Beyrer.

The editorial celebrates and encourages the growing number of global advocates, human rights defenders and others around the world who are challenging HIV criminalisation but notes that everyone involved in the HIV response needs to play their part. “Ending HIV criminalization is the responsibility of us all,” they argue.

“It is important that we all understand how to ensure justice for all people living with HIV, not just those who have access to treatment and are fortunate enough to be undetectable,” they conclude, “so that we can finally end these outrageously unjust laws, policies and practices against people living with HIV in all of their diversity.”

HIV Justice Network’s Supervisory Board gains new members and a new Chair

The HIV Justice Network (HJN) is delighted to announce a number of significant changes to its Supervisory Board.

Following a joint meeting of the Supervisory and Management Boards earlier this month, Kevin Moody was appointed as the new Chair of the Supervisory Board, taking over from Lisa Power who stepped down after almost four years as the “start-up” Chair.

“Like all organisations that want to survive it’s vital that HJN grows and changes to meet an ever-changing world, the changing faces of HIV and the stigma that leads to criminalisation,” said Ms Power. “I’m very confident in handing over to Kevin Moody (as Chair) that this will continue. I think the greatest challenge in the next decade is to engage and enthuse the newer generations of people with HIV and allies to continue the fight; to challenge inappropriate, unfair and often intersecting laws and those who enforce them without heed to human rights, science and common sense.”

Mr Moody, who was appointed to the Supervisory Board in September 2020, is an independent consultant working on evidence-based research, policy and programming to support the development of person-centred initiatives to improve the health and quality of life of people living with and affected by HIV. A former CEO of the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), he has previously worked with the World Health Organization and Médecins sans Frontières.

Mr Moody said he was excited to Chair the Supervisory Board as “it is an opportunity to work with incredibly talented people at HJN. I hope to support the continued development and success of HJN as it works globally to eliminate the unjust regulation, control and punishment of people living with HIV.”

In addition HJN welcomed three new members to the Supervisory Board this month, including former founding Director of the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), Michaela Clayton who was elected Treasurer; George Ayala, Deputy Director of the Alameda County Public Health Department and the former Executive Director of MPact Global Action for Gay Men’s Health and Rights; and Sarai Chisala-Tempelhoff, a Malawian human rights lawyer and a legal researcher with over 15 years of experience in women’s access to justice. Australian lawyer and activist, Paul Kidd, will continue in his role as Secretary.

Ms Chisala-Tempelhoff said she ‘felt at home’ with her new role.I am celebrating my new role serving HJN on the Supervisory Board! HIV decriminalisation has been my passion and research focus since I wrote my undergrad dissertation on this two decades ago! This role and this organisation feel like home.”

Lisa Power, as outgoing Chair, will remain on the Supervisory Board as a member without portfolio. Reflecting on her term as Chair, Ms Power said, “The great public achievement of HJN in the past few years has been the Expert Consensus Statement, but I think the most notable feature of HJN – and this is down to [Executive Director, and sole Management Board member] Edwin J Bernard’s leadership – is the universal regard for the organisation and its work in a very difficult and often fraught field, which has been a constant. All I did was give Edwin the space to create while being a sounding board for his concerns as he steered HJN from being one man with a very bright idea to a solid organisation.”

You can read more about the Supervisory Board here.

WATCH! From Moment to Movement: HIV Justice Live! Ep 3 – Oslo Declaration 9th Anniversary

From Moment to Movement: HIV Justice Live! celebrates the Oslo Declaration on HIV Criminalisation

The 3rd episode of HIV Justice Live! aired on Wednesday, February 17, to celebrate nine years since the publication of the historic Oslo Declaration on HIV Criminalisation. Hosted by HIV Justice Network’s Edwin J Bernard, the show featured some of the advocates who were behind the Oslo Declaration.

Kim Fangen, co-organiser of the side-meeting that finalised the Oslo Declaration, and who was the only person openly living with HIV on the Norwegian Law Commission, revealed that the Declaration was initially conceived as an advocacy tool to influence policy discussions in Norway as well as neighbouring Nordic countries.

Patrick Eba, now UNAIDS Country Director in the Central African Republic, explained that the reason the meeting took place in Oslo was because the Norwegian Government had supported UNAIDS to produce detailed guidance on how countries should deal with the overly broad use of the criminal law to HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission, by examining scientific, medical and legal issues.

Former ARASA ED, Michaela Clayton, now a member of HJN’s Supervisory Board, said the Oslo Declaration was the first time there was a coming together of activists from both the global north and south around HIV criminalisation. She noted that although there had been some work done regionally and in-country, this was the first global solidarity statement around HIV criminalisation.

Ralf Jürgens, now Senior Coordinator of Human Rights at The Global Fund, who attended the Oslo meeting in an advisory capacity, spoke about his relief and delight that the work that he and others had done as part of the ‘first-wave’ of advocacy against HIV criminalisation was now being undertaken by the HIV Justice Network. Jürgens currently oversees the innovative Global Fund initiative, Breaking Down Barriers, which supports 20 countries to remove human rights-related barriers to health services for HIV, TB malaria, and COVID-19. He said the Global Fund has invested resources to fight laws and policies and discrimination overall and ensure access to justice. He added that the HIV Justice Worldwide movement now plays an “incredibly important” part in this work by providing global leadership and a wide range of advocacy resources.

There was a surprise appearance by Susan Timberlake, who was UNAIDS’ Senior Human Rights Advisor when the Oslo meetings took place. She recognised the Oslo Declaration as the moment that the global movement around HIV criminalisation began. Susan recalled the main meeting fell on Valentine’s Day and participants made posters with “make love, not criminal laws” messaging.

Our regular Mind the Gap segment featured Ellie Ballan, a member of our Global Advisory Panel, who is based in Lebanon. He was interviewed by Julian Hows, HJN’s Partnerships and Governance Co-ordinator.

The Oslo Declaration, has so far, garnered over 1750 signatories from more than 115 countries and been translated into nine different languages, the most recent being Latvian and Turkish. It was also the template for the Mexican Declaration in 2017.  Pozitif Dayanışma, an HIV organisation based in Turkey recently translated the Declaration into Turkish, as well as producing an accompanying info-graphic and social media pack.

Further, the Oslo Declaration has been referred to as key guidance on HIV criminalisation from global organisations such as UNAIDS, Amnesty International, and PEPFAR/USAID, cited in several peer-reviewed journals and used as a strategic planning and advocacy tool all over the world. The Declaration has also been featured in high-profile media, such as the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and POZ magazine.