New report shows how women living with HIV are leading the response against HIV criminalisation in the EECA region

A new report produced by the Eurasian Women’s Network on AIDS with the Global Network of People Living with HIV on behalf of HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE, illustrates how women living with HIV, who are disproportionally impacted by HIV criminalisation across the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region, have also been the leaders in research, advocacy and activism against it. The report is now available in English after being originally published in Russian in January.

The report illustrates how HIV criminalisation and gender inequality are intimately and inextricably linked. By highlighting prosecution data from Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine disaggregated by sex, the report shows how the burden of HIV criminalisation is falling upon women.

The report also includes some heart-breaking personal stories including that of a woman in Russia who was prosecuted for breastfeeding her baby, as well as several women in Russia blackmailed by former partners who threatened to report them for alleged HIV exposure as a way to control, coerce, or abuse them.

The evidence provided in the report clearly demonstrates that HIV criminalisation not only fails to protect women from HIV, but worsens their status in society, making them even more susceptible to violence and structural inequalities due to the way their HIV-positive status is framed by the criminal law.

The report goes on to explore how women living with HIV in the region are vulnerable to a range of economic consequences including loss of property, as well as ostracism and discrimination in their communities, including being separated from their children, because:

  • Women living with HIV’s reproductive and maternal choices are controlled by, and can be abused by, the state.
  • Women living with HIV in partnerships with HIV-negative men can be threatened with prosecution, or be prosecuted, even if there has been prior disclosure and consent to the ‘risk’ and even when condoms were used or the woman had an undetectable viral load.
  • Confidential medical information can be illegally shared with law enforcement agencies.

The report also shows a direct connection between HIV criminalisation and other forms of criminalisation – notably the use and possession of drugs, and of sex work – that exacerbate the burden of discrimination, the violation of rights, and violence experienced by women living with HIV in the region.

Despite the difficult picture painted, the report provides hope, however.

It is the mobilisation of the women’s community and the meaningful participation of HIV-positive women and their allies in advocacy for law reform, rights protections – and in the preparation of alternative reports to UN Committees such as the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) – that are making a real difference in the fight against HIV criminalisation in the region.

Read the report in English or Russian.

US: Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF) publishes statement opposing HIV criminalisation

DREDF HIV Criminalization Statement

Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF) opposes the criminalization of people based on their HIV-positive status. In addition to being harmful to public health, laws and prosecution targeting HIV-positive people constitute discrimination on the basis of disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)[1] prohibits disability discrimination by state and local governments.[2] State laws and prosecutions that criminalize people living with HIV without a basis in current objective medical and scientific knowledge violate the ADA and other antidiscrimination mandates. We urge lawmakers across the country to modernize their HIV laws and policies, and to discard outdated and harmful punitive approaches.

Background

During the outset of the HIV epidemic, many states enacted laws that criminalized or enhanced the criminal penalties for certain acts by people living with HIV that were thought to create the risk of exposure to HIV.[3] These laws were passed at a time when fear and misinformation about HIV was widespread, particularly about how HIV is transmitted. Today, with the benefit of more than 30 years of research and considerable advances in medical treatments, the scientific and medical communities have learned much more about how HIV is transmitted and how to prevent transmission. We now know that HIV is not spread through saliva, tears, or sweat.[4] We also know that the use of condoms, PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), and antiviral medication, by themselves or in combination, can dramatically reduce the risk of HIV transmission, in some cases to zero.[5] HIV has also become a medical condition that is managed with medications and other treatments, with people with HIV now having a life expectancy that matches that of the general public.[6] Yet most HIV criminal laws do not reflect current scientific and medical knowledge.[7] In addition, HIV criminalization laws undermine public health by discouraging people from seeking testing and treatment options, such as antiviral medication, that can protect their health and reduce transmission.[8]

Outdated HIV criminalization laws constitute disability discrimination because they treat people living with HIV more harshly without an objective scientific basis. Several states, such as California, Missouri, and North Carolina, have taken steps in recent years to modernize their state HIV laws.[9] Unfortunately, many state laws have still not been updated to reflect current scientific and medical knowledge. Laws in several states criminalize acts that cannot transmit HIV, such as spitting,[10] or that pose no material risk of transmission.[11] These laws do not account for actions that reduce risk, such as condom usage or PrEP or whether transmission has actually occurred.[12]
People with disabilities, including people living with HIV, deserve to live lives free from discrimination and irrational prejudice. DREDF opposes outdated laws that single out people for criminal penalties or enhanced criminal penalties based on their HIV-positive status. These laws violate the ADA and undermine public health.  They should be repealed.


[1] 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq.

[2] 42 U.S.C. § 12132.

[3] See J. Kelly Strader, Criminalization as a Policy Response to a Public Health Crisis, 27 J. Marshall L. Rev. 435 (1994); Wendy E. Permet, AIDS and Quarantine: The Revival of an Archaic Doctrine, 14 Hofstra L. Rev. 53 (1985-1986).

[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ways HIV is Not Transmitted, (April 21, 2021) available at https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/hiv-transmission/not-transmitted.html (“[HIV] is not transmitted […] Through saliva, tears, or sweat”).

[5] Robert W. Eisinger, Carl W. Dieffenbach, Anthony S. Fauci, HIV Viral Load and Transmissibility of HIV Infection: Undetectable Equals Untransmittable, Journal of the American Medical Association (2019), available at https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2720997; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, The Science Is Clear—With HIV, Undetectable Equals Untransmittable: NIH Officials Discuss Scientific Evidence and Principles Underlying the U=U Concept, (Jan. 10 2019), available at https://www.niaid.nih.gov/news-events/science-clear-hiv-undetectable-equals-untransmittable (“In recent years, an overwhelming body of clinical evidence has firmly established the HIV Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) concept as scientifically sound, say officials from the National Institutes of Health. U=U means that people living with HIV who achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load—the amount of HIV in the blood—by taking and adhering to antiretroviral therapy (ART) as prescribed cannot sexually transmit the virus to others.”); Alison J. Rodger, Valentina Cambiano, Tina Bruun, et al., Sexual Activity Without Condoms and Risk of HIV Transmission in Serodifferent Couples When the HIV-Positive Partner Is Using Suppressive Antiretroviral Therapy, JAMA. 2016;316(2):171-181. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.5148 (2016), available at https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2533066;  Roger Chou, Christopher Evans, Adam Hoverman, et al., Preexposure Prophylaxis for the Prevention of HIV Infection: Evidence Report and Systematic Review for the US Preventive Services Task Force, JAMA (2019), available at https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2735508; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PrEP Effectiveness (May 13, 2021), available at  https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prep/prep-effectiveness.html (“PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken as prescribed.”).

[6] Hasina Samji, et al., Closing the Gap: Increases in Life Expectancy among Treated HIV-Positive Individuals in the United States and Canada (December 18, 2013), PLOS ONE, available at https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0081355.

[7] Division of HIV Prevention, National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV Criminalization and Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S., available at https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/policies/law/criminalization-ehe.html (“After more than 30 years of HIV research and significant biomedical advancements to treat and prevent HIV, most HIV criminalization laws do not reflect current scientific and medical evidence.”).

[8] Division of HIV Prevention, National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV Criminalization and Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S., available at https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/policies/law/criminalization-ehe.html (“[HIV criminalization] laws have not increased disclosure and may discourage HIV testing, increase stigma against people with HIV, and exacerbate disparities.”); J. Stan Lehman et al., Prevalence and Public Health Implications of State Laws that Criminalize Potential HIV Exposure in the United States, AIDS Behav. 2014; 18(6): 997–1006., available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4019819/.

[9] Division of HIV Prevention, National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV and STD Criminalization Laws, available at https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/policies/law/states/exposure.html.

[10] See, e.g., MISS. CODE ANN. § 97-27-14(2); Ind. Code §§ 35-42-2-1, 35-45-16-2(c), 35-50-3-3; OHIO REV. CODE ANN. §§ 2921.38, 2929.14.; 18 PA. CONS. STAT. ANN. § 2703.

[11] See ALA. CODE § 22-11A-21; ARK. CODE ANN. § 5-14-123; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ways HIV Can Be Transmitted, (April 21, 2021) available at https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/hiv-transmission/ways-people-get-hiv.html (“[t]here is little to no risk of getting HIV” from oral sex); Julie Fox, Peter J. White, Jonathan Weber, et al., Quantifying Sexual Exposure to HIV Within an HIV-Serodiscordant Relationship: Development of an Algorithm, AIDS 2011, 25:1065–1082 at 1077 (2011).

[12] J. Stan Lehman et al., Prevalence and Public Health Implications of State Laws that Criminalize Potential HIV Exposure in the United States, AIDS Behav. 2014; 18(6): 997–1006., available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4019819/.

Eurasian Women’s AIDS Network releases new compendium on “Women’s Leadership on HIV Decriminalisation”

EWNA launches Women’s Leadership on Decriminalising HIV

The Eurasian Women’s AIDS Network (EWNA) has produced the compendium “Women’s Leadership on HIV Decriminalisation: Experiences of the EECA Region“. The compendium compiles the results of research conducted by the women’s community, examples of documented personal stories and court cases.

All of the collected materials demonstrate how criminalisation of HIV is a global problem and how it is linked to gender-based violence. Experts believe that criminalising laws do not protect women from acquiring HIV but only make them worse off in society.

Such laws make them more vulnerable to HIV-related violence and structural inequalities because

Breastfeeding can be used as a means of direct influence; women living with HIV in discordant couples do not escape harassment due to their status, despite the indeterminate burden and voluntary consent of the partner in the relationship, confidential medical information is often shared with law enforcement authorities.
HIV criminalisation in the EECA region is directly linked to other types of criminalisation (drug use and sex work), the combination of which exacerbates the problem of rights violations and violence against women living with HIV.

The compendium addresses the following issues and themes:

What harms does the criminalisation of HIV cause?
Why are women more vulnerable?
Findings from studies and comparative analysis of court sentences.
Documented cases of blackmail of women living with HIV
The role of the media in the criminalisation of women living with HIV (example of Tajikistan).
HIV and labour law (example from Uzbekistan).
Elimination of vertical transmission and decriminalisation of HIV.

The compendium is available in Russian. It can be downloaded here.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)


ЖСС выпустила сборник «Женское лидерство в вопросах декриминализации ВИЧ»

Евразийская Женская сеть по СПИДу (ЕЖСС) подготовила сборник «Женское лидерство в вопросах декриминализации ВИЧ: опыт региона ВЕЦА». В сборнике собраны результаты исследований, проводимых женским сообществом, примеры задокументированных личных историй и судебных разбирательств.

Все собранные материалы демонстрируют, насколько глобальной проблемой является криминализация ВИЧ и как она связана с гендерным насилием. Экспертки считают, что криминализирующие законы не защищают от заражения ВИЧ, а только ухудшают положение женщин в обществе.

Подобные законы делают их более уязвимыми перед насилием и структурным неравенством в связи с ВИЧ, поскольку:

кормление грудью может использоваться как средство прямого влияния;
женщины с ВИЧ, живущие в дискордантных парах, не избавляются от преследования в связи со статусом, несмотря на неопределяемую нагрузку и добровольное согласие партнера на отношения;
конфиденциальная медицинская информация часто передается в правоохранительные органы.
Криминализация ВИЧ в регионе ВЕЦА напрямую связана с другими видами криминализации (наркозависимость и секс-работа), совокупность которых усугубляет проблему, связанную с нарушением прав и насилием в отношении женщин, живущих с ВИЧ.

В сборнике затронуты следующие вопросы и темы:

Какой вред приносит криминализация ВИЧ?
Почему женщины оказываются в более уязвимом положении?
Результаты исследований и сравнительный анализ судебных приговоров.
Задокументированные случаи шантажа женщин с ВИЧ.
Роль СМИ в криминализации женщин, живущих с ВИЧ (пример Таджикистана).
ВИЧ и трудовое право (пример Узбекистана).
Устранение вертикальной передачи и декриминализация ВИЧ.

Сборник оформлен на русском языке. Скачать его можно здесь.

New Paper reviews recent studies examining the application of HIV-specific criminal laws in North America

Beyond criminalization: reconsidering HIV criminalization in an era of reform

This paper reviews recent studies examining the application of HIV-specific criminal laws in North America (particularly the United States and Canada). In the wake of the development of new biomedical prevention strategies, many states in the United States (US) have recently begun to reform or repeal their HIV-specific laws. These findings can help inform efforts to ‘modernize’ HIV laws (or, to revise in ways that reflect recent scientific advances in HIV treatment and prevention).

This review can be downloaded here.

New Breastfeeding Defence Toolkit
launched at Beyond Blame 2021

Criminal prosecutions related to presumed HIV exposure via breastfeeding are all-too-often driven by stigma, misinformation, and the desire to protect a child from exaggerated risk.  People living with HIV require a vigorous defence based on principles of justice and human rights, good public policy, and accurate science.

Which is why this week we have launched the Breastfeeding Defence Toolkit as a new section of our HIV Justice Tookit.

The Breastfeeding Defence Toolkit provides materials to support lawyers and advocates supporting people living with HIV who face criminal charges or other punitive measures for breastfeeding, chestfeeding, or comfort nursing.

Although the Breastfeeding Defence Toolkit is currently only available in English, we are working on French, Russian and Spanish versions.  In addition, new resources will be added to the Toolkit as they become available.

The Breastfeeding Defence Toolkit was launched at Beyond Blame: Challenging Criminalisation for HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE on Tuesday 30 November 2021.  Watch the 10 minute segment below.

Background

In 1986, it was discovered that HIV could be transmitted from a woman to a child through 
breastfeeding. Since this time, women living with HIV have borne the weight of the 
responsibility of preventing HIV transmission to their offspring. This responsibility has been 
used to justify surveillance, judgement, and limitations on autonomy and decision-making for 
women living with HIV.

Some women living with HIV have faced criminal prosecution for exposing fetuses and/or 
infants to a risk of HIV infection, especially through breastfeeding. These numbers may be small 
compared to the number who have faced criminal charges with respect to HIV non-disclosure, 
exposure and transmission in sexual contexts, but cases are increasing.

The HIV Justice Network 
is aware of at least 13 such cases in the past decade, with a growing number of criminal prosecutions taking place 
across the African continent as well as in Russia since 2018. We are also aware of several cases 
that took place in North America and Europe between 2005 – 2012.

These cases include charges laid against mothers, community members and domestic 
employees. Various criminal charges have been used in these cases, including failure to provide 
the necessaries of life, grievous bodily harm, unlawfully doing an act likely to spread a 
dangerous disease, and deliberately infecting another with HIV.

In addition to these criminal 
cases, many more women have experienced punitive responses from service providers, public 
health, and child welfare authorities.

Criminal prosecutions and other punitive responses to breastfeeding by women living with HIV 
pose significant harms to both the accused and the child. HIV criminalisation threatens the 
health and well-being of people living with HIV and jeopardises the goals of ending HIV 
discrimination and, ultimately, the epidemic. Not only do punitive laws targeting people living with HIV lack a scientific evidence base they also serve as barriers to HIV prevention, treatment, 
and care, and perpetuate stigma.

Infant feeding choices should not be a criminal issue. Parents should be provided with full 
information to make the best choices for their families and infant feeding should be managed 
through clinical support. Science supports that the best outcomes for a mother and a child 
result from proper medical care, access to treatment and openness. Criminalising maternal and 
child health issues generally risks worse outcomes for the infant.

Molecular HIV Surveillance “a perfect storm” in the context of HIV-related criminalisation

A new briefing paper published today by Positive Women’s Network-USA on behalf of the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE coalition aims to support people living with HIV, activists, legal experts, and human rights campaigners in understanding the complexities and consequences of molecular HIV surveillance (MHS). 

Molecular HIV Surveillance: A global review of human rights implicationsprovides a detailed explanation of what MHS is and how it is used across the globe, including how the technology works, where it is being conducted, and by whom. The paper describes growing human rights concerns relating to the use of this technology and goes on to list a number of recommendations for the use of MHS which were gathered from an international literature review and from members of the Expert Advisory Group.*

Molecular HIV surveillance (MHS) is an umbrella term that describes a wide range of practices focused on the monitoring of HIV variants and the differences and similarities between them for scientific research, public health surveillance, and intervention.

To conduct MHS, scientists rely on the results of HIV genetic sequencing tests taken from people living with HIV – these tests are often done before prescribing HIV medication to determine if the individual has a strain of HIV that is resistant to certain treatments. Interest in, and use of, MHS for reasons other than tailoring treatment regimens is increasing globally, however. Of particular concern, in some regions, MHS is being conducted and HIV data is being shared in ways that put the rights and safety of people living with HIV in jeopardy. 

“HIV is highly stigmatised and communities that are most vulnerable to acquiring HIV are already highly policed and at risk for violence” said Naina Khanna, co-executive director of Positive Women’s Network-USA, a US-based membership organisation led by women and people of transgender experience living with HIV. “In more than 30 states in the US alone, and over 100 countries around the world, people with HIV can be criminalised on the basis of their health condition. Taking this kind of data from people without their consent or knowledge and storing or sharing it without adequate protections is extremely risky and could come at the cost of someone’s personal safety, their livelihood, and in the case of HIV criminalisation, their freedom.”

The paper highlights how HIV experts and advocates have raised a range of human rights concerns about this technology. These include: 

  • Consent and autonomy; 
  • Lack of community consultation; 
  • Increased stigma on targeted communities; 
  • Privacy and data protections; 
  • Whether or not the technology can be used to “prove” direct transmission; and,
  •  How MHS may intensify HIV criminalisation within communities who are already marginalised and oppressed.

Edwin J Bernard, Executive Director of the HIV Justice Network and global co-ordinator of the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE coalition added: “MHS treats people living with HIV as ‘clusters’ and targets of public health interventions, rather than the beneficiaries of public health. When you combine MHS with HIV criminalisation it’s a perfect storm. That’s why I commissioned PWN-USA to produce this briefing paper as a first step to understand the problems and to suggest a range of possible solutions. With increased knowledge on the practices of MHS, individuals and organisations can be better equipped to advocate for ending research and surveillance practices that have the potential to harm the rights, autonomy, and well-being of people living with HIV.”

The paper provides wide-ranging recommendations for change aimed at various stakeholders, highlighting five key areas of action:

  1.   Take seriously and act upon community concerns about MHS.
  2.   Respect the bodily autonomy and integrity of people living with HIV in all our diversity.
  3.   MHS implementers must demonstrate a clear public health benefit that outweighs the potential harms of MHS, including by ensuring protections (i.e., data privacy, legal protections, social harms prevention, etc). These demonstrated benefits of MHS must measurably include people living with HIV.
  4.   Providers ordering HIV sequencing must inform people living with HIV about how their blood and data are being used for MHS purposes and be allowed to withdraw the consent if they so wish, without fear of negative consequences to their HIV treatment and care.
  5.   Implementers of MHS should publicly advocate against punitive or coercive laws and policies aimed at people living with HIV and ensure that MHS is never used in criminal, civil, or immigration investigations or prosecutions.

The paper is now available in four languages:

Watch the launch video below:

Follow the online conversation on Twitter by using the hashtags #EndMHS #DataPrivacy #DataProtection #HIVJustice and by following @HIVJusticeNet @uspwn

We gratefully acknowledge the financial contribution of the Robert Carr Fund to this report.

*MHS Expert Advisory Group

  • Naina Khanna & Breanna Diaz, Positive Women’s Network-USA
  • Edwin J. Bernard, HIV Justice Network
  • Marco Castro-Bojorquez, HIV Racial Justice Now (in memoriam)
  • Brian Minalga, Legacy Project
  • Andrew Spieldenner, US People Living with HIV Caucus
  • Sean Strub, Sero Project

Report: End HIV criminalisation to address LGBT+ inequities

A new report published by the Global Equality Caucus examines what elected officials can do to ensure LGBT+ people receive equitable access to HIV healthcare.

The report titled Breaking barriers in HIV: Action for legislators to address LGBT+ inequities, includes ten recommendations for legislators and others to take forward, including repealing or modernising outdated HIV criminalisation laws, and doing more to safeguard health data privacy.

The report notes that HIV criminalisation laws are “out of step with modern scientific understanding and perpetuate outdated HIV stigmas.” Removing such laws would help to tackle prejudice and refocus HIV as a public health crisis.

Also relevant to our ongoing work on molecular HIV surveillance, the report further recommends that where data is collected, anonymity should always be assured, and “this applies to HIV testing, immigration status, or whatever other circumstances that may place LGBT+ people in danger should their health data be shared with other government authorities.”

Parliamentarians have a responsibility to ensure government departments respect the privacy of citizens and that health data is not being shared with agencies that could present additional barriers to the lives of LGBT+ people, such as immigration authorities or justice departments.

Health Not Prisons Dispatch: June 2021

The Health Not Prisons Dispatch is a monthly bulletin highlighting recent developments relevant to criminalisation and policing of people living with HIV in the United States, along with upcoming events, relevant resources, and opportunities to get involved.

The June edition is available here: https://www.pwn-usa.org/issues/the-health-not-prisons-collective/health-not-prisons-dispatch/june-2021-health-not-prisons-dispatch

For more information about the coalition email Tyler Barbarin at tyler@pwn-usa.org.

The PJP Update – May 2021

The May 2021 edition of the Positive Justice Project newsletter is available 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.