Discussion Guide for Mwayi’s Story now available

Mwayi’s Story is a short film about courage and women standing up for their rights that was released earlier this year.

Watch the film


The film is based on the story of a woman in Malawi who was prosecuted for briefly breastfeeding another woman’s baby. After the case, the community campaigned to stop an HIV criminalisation statute from being passed.

Mwayi’s Story can be used as an awareness-raising and educational resource in classes, webinars and workshops.

The new Discussion Guide was created to help facilitators lead conversations before and after viewing the film.

The Guide provides some background and then poses a number of questions to stimulate thought and discussion. Not all questions are suited to all audiences.


Download the Discussion Guide


The film has already been shown in a number of forums since its release last May, including at AIDS 2022. It has now been subtitled in French, Russian and Spanish, and we are also looking for partners to translate additional subtitles if they think the film can be useful in their own advocacy. If you’re interested you can get in touch with us at breastfeeding@hivjustice.net. We will send you the English subtitle file for translation. After you return the file to us, we will upload it to YouTube.

Mwayi’s Story is part of our ongoing work to end the criminalisation of women living with HIV for breastfeeding and comfort nursing, including our Breastfeeding Defence Action Toolkit – one of six Action Toolkits in the HIV Justice Academy.

It is our goal to collaborate with advocates, researchers, service providers, organisations and community members around the world to raise awareness and prevent further unjust prosecutions against women living with HIV who breastfeed or comfort nurse. We are grateful to both the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and the Robert Carr Fund for their financial support for this work, and this film.

HIV Justice Academy now available in French
HIV Justice Academy est désormais disponible en français

En français ci-dessous

The HIV Justice Academy is now available in French at academy.hivjustice.net/fr. Launched initially in English, the platform architecture allows for content in multiple languages. Spanish and Russian versions will be announced soon. 

The Academy is a global learning and resource hub designed to support people who want to be part of the movement to end HIV criminalisation. It comprises three sections:

At the heart of the HIV Justice Academy is the HIV Criminalisation Online Course which provides a global overview of HIV criminalisation, useful for anyone who is interested in learning more about HIV criminalisation and how to advocate effectively against it.

With its free and accessible written and video resources, we hope that the HIV Justice Academy will engage a growing community of HIV justice activists and advocates, providing timely and accessible learning, tools and resources, so that progressive change can be achieved in legal and policy environments for people living with HIV at national, regional, and international levels.

HIV Justice Academy est maintenant disponible en français à l’adresse academy.hivjustice.net/fr 

Lancée initialement en anglais, l’architecture de la plateforme permet d’accueillir un contenu en plusieurs langues. Les versions espagnole et russe seront bientôt annoncées. 

L’Académie est un centre mondial d’apprentissage et de ressources conçu pour soutenir les personnes qui souhaitent participer au mouvement visant à mettre fin à la pénalisation du VIH. 

Elle se compose de trois sections :

Au cœur de l’Académie se trouve le cours en ligne sur la pénalisation du VIH, qui présente un aperçu général de la pénalisation du VIH, utile pour toute personne souhaitant approfondir ses connaissances sur la pénalisation du VIH et sur les stratégies de plaidoyer efficaces contre celle-ci.

Grâce à ses ressources documentaires et vidéos gratuites et accessibles, nous espérons que l’Académie mobilisera l’intérêt d’une communauté croissante d’activistes et de militants œuvrant pour la justice en matière de VIH, et que grâce à ses cours opportuns et accessibles, ses outils et ses ressources, des transformations progressives pourront être apportées à l’environnement juridique et politique des personnes vivant avec le VIH sur le plan national, régional et international.

Russia: Court finds refusal to let migrant woman stay in Russia because of her HIV status unlawful

Court in Krasnodar invalidates refusal to allow a foreigner with HIV to stay in Russia

Translated via Deepl.com. For original article in Russian, please scroll down.

The Krasnodar Territory Department of the Russian Federal Consumer Rights Protection and Human Health Control Service decided that Uzbek citizen X. was undesirable in Russia because of her HIV positive status. The Leninskiy Court in Krasnodar found the ban discriminatory and unlawful.

The foreigner went to court to challenge the decision to ban her from staying in Russia, pointing out that her parents, brother and sister reside in Russia and have Russian citizenship, and she has never violated the law. When Rosia appealed to Rospotrebnadzor to cancel the decision, they replied that the procedure for cancellation or suspension under this category was not regulated by law and that the contested decision could only be cancelled on the basis of a court decision.

The court found that under the law On the Prevention of the Spread of Disease Caused by HIV in the Russian Federation, foreigners and stateless persons with such status may stay in the country if they do not violate administrative and criminal law. The Russian Constitutional Court has also confirmed the illegality of such restrictions.

As a result, the Leninskiy Court in Krasnodar ordered the regional department of Rospotrebnadzor to reverse the decision on the undesirability of the Uzbekistani citizen, who is now allowed to enter the country.

Суд в Краснодаре признал незаконным отказ во въезде в Россию иностранке с ВИЧ

Управление Роспотребнадзора по Краснодарскому краю приняло решение о нежелательности нахождения в России гражданки Узбекистана Р.Р. из-за ее положительного ВИЧ-статуса. Ленинский суд Краснодара признал запрет дискриминационным и незаконным.

Иностранка обратилась в суд, оспаривая решение о запрете пребывания в России, указав: ее родители, брат и сестра проживают в России и имеют российское гражданство, она ни разу не нарушала законодательство. Когда Розия обратилась в Роспотребнадзор с требованием отменить решение, там ответили – порядок отмены или приостановления по этой категории законодательно не урегулирован и отмена оспариваемого решения возможна только на основании решения суда.

Суд установил, что по закону “О предупреждении распространения в Российской Федерации заболевания, вызываемого ВИЧ” иностранцы и лица без гражданства с подобным статусом могут находиться в стране, если не нарушают административное и уголовное законодательство. Незаконность такого ограничения подтверждает и Конституционный суд России.

В итоге Ленинский суд Краснодара обязал региональное управление Роспотребнадзора отменить решение о нежелательности пребывания гражданки Узбекистана, которой теперь разрешен въезд в страну.

Mexico: LGBTQ+ community calling for the repeal of HIV criminalisation statute in Quintana Roo Public Health Law

LGBTQ+ community calls for changes to Quintana Roo Health Law

Translated via Deepl.com. Please scroll down for original article in Spanish.

The LGBTQ+ community is calling for the repeal of the criminalisation of HIV transmission in the Quintana Roo Health Law.

The LGBTQ+ community, in a working meeting with local Congresswoman Estefanía Mercado Asencio, requested the repeal of Article 113 of the Quintana Roo Health Law, which criminalises the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, specifically HIV.

The repeal of this article, found in Title Eight, Chapter II, Communicable Diseases, has been requested for several Legislatures, but has been ignored, said Omar Ortiz, the President of the Civil Association “Información y Educación Sexual”.

At the meeting, which was attended by people representing sexually diverse populations, people involved in the HIV response and mothers of various sexually diverse populations, a request was made to encourage municipalities to have a Sexual Diversity Unit, as in Solidaridad, which is the only municipality with such a unit, and for the State Government to have a Secretariat for Sexual Diversity.

“We were attending to the pending legislative agenda, with respect to what is already advanced and what is pending in the matter, at the local level; we talked about article 113 of the Health Law, which criminalises the issue of HIV, as well as the fact that Solidaridad is the only municipality that has a Unit for the Attention to Sexual Diversity, and she, as a deputy, has the possibility of presenting an initiative so that all municipalities have this position,” he pointed out.

“The article criminalises the fact of transmission, when it is an issue that cannot be scientifically proven; I cannot prove that you have transmitted HIV to me because there is no scientific or laboratory mechanism that allows us to know that it was you and not another partner or my sexual contacts, nor at what moment it happened. There is no way to apply that article, it is basically up to interpretation and that cannot be in the law.

Another issue they asked the Congresswoman to address is the creation of the Unit for Comprehensive Care of Sexually Diverse Populations and Children and Adolescents who require specialised endocrinology care, which responds to the needs of social minorities, such as the transgender population, in order to carry out their transition process under medical supervision, without endangering their lives and health.

Exige comunidad LGBTQ+ cambios a Ley de Salud de Quintana Roo

La comunidad LGBTQ+ pide derogar la criminalización del hecho de la transmisión del VIH en la Ley de Salud de Quintana Roo.

La comunidad LGBTQ+, en reunión de trabajo con la Diputada local, Estefanía Mercado Asencio, solicitó derogar el artículo 113 de la Ley de Salud de Quintana Roo ya que, criminaliza el hecho de la transmisión de enfermedades venéreas, en específico del VIH.

El citado artículo, ubicado en el Título Octavo, Capítulo II, Enfermedades Transmisibles, se ha pedido su derogación desde hace varias Legislaturas, pero ha sido ignorado, apuntó el Presidente de la Asociación Civil “Información y Educación Sexual”, Omar Ortiz.

En el encuentro donde participaron personas de la diversidad sexual, de respuesta del VIH y madres de poblaciones de la diversidad, se solicitó la promoción de una iniciativa para que los Ayuntamientos tengan una Unidad de la Diversidad Sexual, como en Solidaridad, que es el único con esta instancia, y que el Gobierno del Estado tenga una Secretaría de la Diversidad Sexual.

“Estuvimos atendiendo la agenda Legislativa pendiente, respecto a lo ya avanzado y lo pendiente que tenemos en la materia, en el terreno local; hablamos del artículo 113 de la Ley de Salud, que criminaliza el tema del VIH, así como que Solidaridad es el único Ayuntamiento que tiene una Unidad para la Atención a la Diversidad Sexual, y ella, como diputada, tiene la posibilidad de presentar una iniciativa para que todos los municipios cuenten con esta figura”, señaló.

“El artículo criminaliza el hecho de la transmisión, cuando es un tema que científicamente no se puede probar; yo no puedo probar que tú me hayas transmitido el VIH porque no existe un mecanismo científico, de laboratorio, que permita saber que fuiste tú y no otra pareja o mis contactos sexuales, ni en qué momento se dio. No hay manera de aplicar ese artículo, está básicamente a interpretación y eso no puede ser en la ley”.

Otro tema que pidieron a la Congresista es la creación de la Unidad de Atención Integral a Poblaciones de la Diversidad Sexual y Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes que requieran atención especializada en endocrinología, que responda a la necesidad de las minorías sociales, como la población trans, a fin de realizar su proceso de transición bajo vigilancia médica, sin poner en peligro su vida y salud.

US: Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) issues resolution on Molecular HIV Surveillance and Cluster Detection

PACHA Unanimously Approves Resolution to Create Safeguards for People Living with HIV


Directs CDC to Adapt Surveillance Activities to Better Protect Human Rights for Vulnerable Communities

October 18, 2022PWN commends and applauds the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) for their leadership in unanimously passing an historic resolution that is critical to protecting the human rights and dignity of people living with HIV, the Resolution on Molecular HIV Surveillance and Cluster Detection Response.

This resolution responds to concerns raised by public health officials and community advocates, especially networks of people living with HIV and human rights and data privacy experts, and urges the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to change their guidance on cluster detection and response (CDR) activities. Specifically, the resolution clearly and forcefully recommends that the CDC direct jurisdictions funded for such activities adapt their implementation of CDR to account for local conditions, including health data privacy protections and laws criminalizing people living with HIV.

“Basically, PACHA told the CDC that local context matters: if jurisdictions do not have adequate safeguards to protect the human rights and privacy of people living with HIV, the CDC must allow for a moratorium on CDR activities,” said Kelly Flannery, policy director at Positive Women’s Network-USA. “There is still room to create more robust protections for people living with HIV, such as informed consent standards. Going forward, we must ensure that there are no further developments and integration of new public health surveillance technologies impacting people living with HIV absent community input, oversight, and specifically involvement from networks of PLHIV.”

In the resolution, PACHA also urged CDC to work in partnership with networks of people living with HIV to create a stronger system of informed consent around the use of molecular HIV surveillance data. U.S.-based networks of PLHIV have been sounding the alarm about molecular HIV surveillance (MHS) since 2018, when the federal government first required that states and jurisdictions scale up the use of molecular surveillance technologies and activities as a condition of HIV prevention funding. By 2019, MHS was named one of the core pillars of the federal “End the HIV Epidemic” (EHE) Plan.

“As a result of massive mobilization and outcry by networks of people living with HIV and our allies, yesterday, we finally saw a response addressing community concerns,” said Venita Ray, co-executive director of Positive Women’s Network-USA. “Now it’s time for the CDC to take swift action to implement the recommendations from PACHA and networks of PLHIV.”

This resolution is a tremendous step forward for communities that are dually most impacted by HIV and by surveillance and policing – especially Black, Indigenous and People of Color, migrants, queer and transgender people, people who use drugs, those who work in in the sex trade, and those with the least access to quality, affordable healthcare. We are deeply appreciative to PACHA leadership and to the PACHA Stigma and Disparities Subcommittee for their tremendous efforts in response to concerns from networks of people living with HIV.

Now that it has now been unanimously approved by PACHA, what happens next will speak to the character and integrity of the CDC. Failing to implement these recommendations would represent an egregious breach of public trust. We will be closely monitoring the adoption of these important recommendations throughout the federal response.

The full PACHA resolution is available here.

Canada: Federal government must review past criminal cases of HIV nondisclosure for possible wrongful convictions

Ottawa urged to review past HIV cases for wrongful convictions

Canada has been described as a “global hot spot” by advocacy groups for HIV nondisclosure prosecutions. One lawyer hopes to change that.

The federal government must review past criminal cases of HIV nondisclosure for possible wrongful convictions, says the president of Ontario’s Criminal Lawyers’ Association.

Such a review would highlight the pressing need for a permanent commission to proactively review wrongful convictions in all cases, said Daniel Brown — something that a panel of retired judges recommended to the government, but which has yet to take shape.

“Yes, we want the government to carefully consider how this commission should be established, but they’ve had more than enough time to get this commission off the ground,” Brown said, “and if the government was motivated to see a wrongful conviction commission, it would exist already.”

Brown was speaking in the wake of the recent successful appeal of his firm’s client, Jennifer Murphy.

She had been convicted of aggravated sexual assault in 2013 for not disclosing her HIV-positive status in a consensual sexual encounter, despite having a low viral load due to antiretroviral medication which made it impossible for her to transmit the virus.

Canadian law requires an individual living with HIV to disclose their status to a sexual partner if there is a realistic possibility of transmission. At the time of Murphy’s conviction, it was generally understood within the legal system that disclosure was not necessary if the individual had both a low viral load and used a condom. No condom was used in the Murphy case.

The federal government says it wants to reform the law around nondisclosure, recognizing that a low viral load alone means there can be no realistic possibility of transmission. Consultations with advocacy groups are set to take place this month.

Canada has been described as a “global hot spot” by advocacy groups for HIV nondisclosure prosecutions, with more than 220 by the end of last year. Individuals are usually convicted of the crime of aggravated sexual assault, which carries a prison sentence and mandatory registration on the sex offenders registry.

Brown said there needs to be a plan to review those cases for circumstances similar to Murphy’s, where individuals had been convicted of a serious criminal offence despite being unable to transmit the virus — in other words, convicted because the law had not caught up with the science.

Reviewing wrongful convictions is also one of the four main demands put to the government in a statement released this year by the Canadian Coalition to Reform HIV Criminalization and signed by dozens of organizations.

Without commenting on specific cases, a spokesperson for Justice Minister David Lametti pointed out that individuals can appeal their case if they believe there has been an error. “Many errors and miscarriages of justice are corrected by appeal courts across the country,” said Chantalle Aubertin.

But Brown said that’s an “exhaustive and expensive” process, even more so for individuals convicted for HIV nondisclosure, who may already face stigma along with barriers to employment due to having a criminal record. It’s not a process they can navigate on their own, he said.

In the Murphy case, Brown said she had to file a formal motion seeking an extension of time to bring her appeal, retain an infectious diseases expert, and have lawyers spend multiple days arguing over admissibility of evidence.

“It was a lengthy process that lasted well over three years and an expensive one as well, even with lawyers who were prepared to donate their time for free,” Brown said.

“Simply saying that people can take their case before the appeal courts fails to recognize those barriers that exist, and that’s why it’s important that a wrongful conviction review be created to address these concerns.”

Under the current wrongful conviction review process, once an individual convicted of any crime has exhausted all of their rights to appeal, they can request that their case be reviewed by a special group at the justice department — a process that can take years. The minister then ultimately decides whether the application should be granted or dismissed.

“This is the process now, and it is one we accept needs to be improved,” Aubertin said.

Last year, a report to the government from former judges Harry LaForme and Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré recommended the creation of an independent commission to proactively review cases that might have resulted in wrongful convictions, saying such a body was “urgently required.”

Aubertin said Lametti is “fully committed” to the creation of a commission, and that the policy work necessary to create it is underway.

“Minister Lametti would like the commission ready to launch by the end of his mandate — but it is important that we take the time to do this properly. Too much is at stake,” she said.

Prepare for action!
with the new
HIV Justice Academy

The HIV Justice Academy (academy.hivjustice.net) is a brand new global learning and resource hub designed to support people who want to be part of the movement to end HIV criminalisation.

It comprises three sections that address three different needs:

The HIV Justice Academy was created to allow for training, organising and advocacy to continue regardless of the travel and in-person meeting limitations we might face in the future. We want to ensure that we continue to build and galvanise the global movement to end punitive laws and policies that impact people living with HIV in all their diversity, with a specific focus on the criminalisation of HIV non-disclosure, exposure and/or transmission (HIV criminalisation).

With its accessible written and video resources, we hope that the HIV Justice Academy will engage a growing community of HIV justice activists and advocates, providing timely and accessible learning, tools and resources, so that progressive change in legal and policy environments for people living with HIV at national, regional, and international levels can be achieved.

Launched initially in English, the platform architecture allows for content in multiple languages. We will be launching French, Spanish and Russian versions very soon. We will be relying on user feedback via surveys and our HIV Justice Academy multilingual chat function to ensure that the Academy will become ever more tailored to the needs of our growing network of individuals and organisations working to end HIV criminalisation.

At the heart of the HIV Justice Academy is the HIV Criminalisation Online Course which provides a global overview of HIV criminalisation, useful for anyone who is interested in learning more about HIV criminalisation and how to advocate effectively against it.

The HIV Justice Academy was developed by the HIV Justice Network (HJN), with guidance and expertise from our HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE (HJWW) Steering Committee partners, members of our Global Advisory Panel (GAP) and other friends and allies in our global network. It is aimed at anyone interested in learning about HIV criminalisation, as well as specific groups of stakeholders, such as community-based HIV and human rights activists, paralegals, defence lawyers and expert witnesses. We hope the Academy will also inspire the creation of communities of practice for ongoing mutual support.

The HIV Justice Academy is supported by a grant from the Robert Carr Fund provided to the HIV Justice Global Consortium. The financial contribution of UNAIDS towards this work is gratefully acknowledged. However, its content and ideas expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of UNAIDS or engage the responsibility of UNAIDS.