Mexico: “Danger of contagion”, an offence under article 159 of the Penal Code of Mexico Federal District, declared unconstitutional

Judge grants protection to person accused of HIV infection

Automatic translation – For original text in Spanish, please scroll down.

Judge declares the crime indicated in the penal code of Mexico City as unconstitutional for violating funda­mental rights.

The firm Ramírez, Penilla, Rubio, Cuadra, Abogados, S.C. reported that on October 4 they were notified of the sentence issued by the titular Judge of the Sixteenth District Court of Amparo in Criminal Matters of Mexico City in the protection trial filed in favor of Juan N, who was linked to the process in June this year for the crime of danger of contagion.

They indicated that the sentence establishes, among other things, the unconstitutionality of the crime of danger of contagion established in article 159 of the Penal Code for the Federal District because the con­tested norm does not approve the constitutional and conventional standards of suitability and propor­tionality as it violates of the first article of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States and of the 26 of the American Convention of Human Rights.

“We congratulate ourselves for the issuance of this jurisdictional decision that reflects the recognition of human rights in the broadest spectrum and we urge that this important prece­dent be translated into the elimination of all forms of discrimination and criminalization of the health condition of women. people, “they celebrated.

Finally, the lawyer Olivia Rubio ratified the commitment of her signature in obtaining justice, especially for those who belong to priority attention groups.


Jueza concede amparo a persona acusada de contagio de VIH

Declara inconstitucional delito señalado en el código penal de la ciudad de México por contra­venir dere­chos fundamentales.

El despacho Ramírez, Penilla, Rubio, Cuadra, Abogados, S.C. informó que el 4 de octubre fueron notifica­dos de la sentencia emitida por la Jueza titular del Juzgado Decimosexto de Distrito de Amparo en Materia Penal de la Ciudad de México en el juicio de amparo interpuesto a favor de Juan N, quien fue vinculado a proceso en junio de este año por el delito de peligro de contagio.

Señalaron que la sentencia establece, entre otras cosas, la inconstitucionalidad del delito de pe­ligro de contagio establecido en el artículo 159 del Código Penal para el Distrito Federal debido a que la norma combatida no aprueba los estándares constitucionales y convencionales de ido­neidad y proporcionalidad al ser violatoria del artículo primero de la Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos y del 26 de la Convención Americana de los Derechos Humanos.

“Nos congratulamos por la emisión de esta decisión jurisdiccional que es reflejo del reconoci­miento de los derechos humanos en el espectro más amplio e instamos para que este impor­tante precedente se traduzca en la eliminación de toda forma de discriminación y criminaliza­ción de la condición de salud de las personas”, celebraron.

Finalmente, la abogada Olivia Rubio ratificó el compromiso de su firma en la obtención de justi­cia, espe­cialmente para quienes pertenecen a grupos de atención prioritaria.

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.

US: New Jersey’s Acting Attorney General issues science-informed prosecutorial guidance for application of HIV criminalisation law

New Guidance on Prosecuting HIV Crimes in New Jersey

In stressing U=U, New Jersey’s acting attorney general wants to ensure that no one living with HIV is charged unjustly.

New Jersey’s Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck issued new guidance regarding enforcement of a 24-year-old law that criminalizes certain activities by people living with HIV, according to a press release from Bruck’s office.

Specifically, the guidance directs prosecutors to take into account three factors when deciding whether to charge someone under the state’s HIV crime law. The guidance is based on modern scientific knowledge about how HIV is and isn’t contracted—notably that people who maintain an undetectable viral load do no transmit HIV via sex, a fact known as Undetectable Equals Untransmittable, or U=U. What’s more, the guidance follows the lead of several professional organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

The state law in question is NJSA 2C:34-5(b). Enacted in 1997, the law “made it a third-degree crime for an individual living with HIV to engage in an ‘act of sexual penetration’ without the informed consent of their partner,” according to the two-page guidance, which adds that the disease was then thought to be a death sentence.

Thanks to modern treatment, HIV mortality and transmission risk have been greatly reduced. However, the guidance continues, stigma remains a public health challenge and crime laws discourage people from getting tested and accessing treatment.

The guidance then states:

Of course, NJSA 2C:34-5(b) remains on the books, and it is the responsibility of the legislature—not prosecutors—to decide whether and how the law should be modified. And while relatively few individuals are charged with violating NJSA 2C:34-5(b), it is helpful to provide statewide guidance to ensure that its enforcement does not undermine current public-health strategies.

As always, prosecutors retain significant discretion in deciding whether and under what circumstances to charge individuals with certain criminal offenses. In deciding whether to charge a violation of NJSA 2C:34-5(b), prosecutors should consider the following factors:

• Whether the individual forced or coerced their partner to engage in sexual activity;

• Whether the individual engaged in sexual activity for the purpose of transmitting HIV to their partner; and/or

• Whether the individual was adhering to a medically appropriate HIV treatment plan at the time of the sexual activity.

It is virtually impossible to imagine a scenario where it would be appropriate for a prosecutor to charge an individual with NJSA 2C:34-5(b) when that person’s HIV viral load was undetectable at the time of the sexual activity and no aggravating factors existed. Prosecutors who are considering criminal charges in such circumstances must consult with the Director of the Division of Criminal Justice before proceeding.

“This guidance is designed to ensure that people are not prosecuted unjustly and that we do not undermine public health strategies aimed at encouraging testing, treatment and prevention,” the acting attorney general said in the press release.

“The guidance that we are providing to prosecutors makes clear that this state law should be enforced only when specific aggravating factors are present,” added director Lyndsay Ruotolo of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Our goal is to ensure that if anyone living with HIV is criminally charged under this statute, it is done justly and consistently.”

“We recognize that 40 years after the first…reported AIDS case in this country, medical advancements have dramatically changed outcomes for individuals living with HIV. However, outdated laws such as this have remained on the books and are highly discriminatory, have not proven to reduce HIV transmission and discourage individuals from learning their HIV status,” said Hudson County prosecutor Esther Suarez, president of the County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey. “Acting Attorney General Bruck’s guidance issued today will ensure that individuals living with HIV in New Jersey are not unjustly stigmatized or prosecuted and will reinforce public health protocols that are critical to sustaining the progress made in treatment of this disease.”

 

US: Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee hears testimonies against HIV criminalisation laws

‘HIV is not a crime’: Pennsylvania House panel tackles outdated laws targeting those living with the virus

By: Frank Pizzoli

‘HIV is not a crime but there are outdated laws that make it a crime in Pennsylvania. We cannot have people losing lives and livelihoods because of this,’ Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta said.

About 20 people gathered Wednesday in the East Wing of the State Capitol to unveil the “Living a Positive Life” mural commissioned by the Family Health Council as part of its Take Control of HIV campaign.

“We are here today to broadcast loud and clear that HIV is no longer a death sentence,” Patricia Fonzi, the CEO of the Family Health Council of Central Pennsylvania said.

The mural is full of colorful graphics and messaging regarding the importance of open communication about HIV. On display at the capitol for the month of October, the goal of the mural is to empowers individuals to thrive no matter their HIV status.

The mural was created by well-known Harrisburg-based artist Stephen Michael Haas, a multi-disciplined artist inspired by the likes of late 90s cartoons and Super Mario’s squirrels.

In 2018, there were 36,144 people living with HIV in Pennsylvania. In 2018, 1,023 people were newly diagnosed with HIV, according to aidsvu.org.

“Whether infected long-term or a more recently, there is hope like never before,” Fonzi told the Capital-Star. Current medications can control HIV to the point where the virus is ‘undetectable’ on a lab test.

Furthering the push by HIV service organizations is the scientifically researched concept of Undetectable = Untransmittable or U=U for shorthand. More than 750 organizations worldwide, according to aidsmap.com, and including the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Centers of Disease Control, and the World Health Organization “agree that people with HIV whose viral load is stably suppressed cannot sexually transmit the virus.”

In non-professional terms, U=U means “if a person with HIV is on HIV meds (antiretroviral therapy, or ART) with a consistently undetectable HIV viral load, the virus cannot be transmitted to a sex partner,” according to the US Dept. of Veteran’s Affairs.

Change outdated laws? 

Although not coordinated with the mural’s unveiling, transmitting HIV to a sexual partner formed the basis of a hearing held the same morning before the House Democratic Policy Committee under the direction of Philadelphia Democratic Reps. Mary Isaacson and Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta.

“Pennsylvania has laws on the books that criminalize or control behaviors through HIV-specific statues and regulations.” Kenyatta said in a statement.“HIV is not a crime but there are outdated laws that make it a crime in Pennsylvania. We cannot have people losing lives and livelihoods because of this.”

The policy committee heard from Cumberland County resident Julie Graham, who described the impact of these laws on her life after she was charged with four crimes, including two felonies, based on allegations by a man she had dated who claimed she didn’t disclose her HIV status. Due to these allegations, she faced personal and professional consequences that forever impacted the trajectory of her life.

“I support and applaud your courage and advocacy to testify here today,” Rep. Isaacson expressed to Graham. “Being HIV positive is not a crime and we must do better in supporting those in Pennsylvania who are living with HIV.”

House Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, was also in attendance adding, “HIV decriminalization is important to the entire Democratic Caucus and I am grateful to the testifiers who came today to speak on this important topic.”

Other testifiers during the hearing include Adrian Shanker, executive director, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, Steven Bryson, SERO Legal Fellow, AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, and Michelle Troxell, Pennsylvania Co-Chair, Positive Women’s Network USA. They each shared data that show the impact of these laws on the lives of Pennsylvanians and support changes to the laws.

Michelle Troxell, representing the Positive Women’s Network and a nurse, told the committee she has lived with HIV for 32 years. Her testimony noted that “while I have seen many advances in the way we medically treat people living with HIV, I have barely seen any advances in the way we treat people living with HIV.” See meant the laws that govern how HIV is handled within the legal system.

“HIV criminalization fuels stigma. Stigma, fear, criminalization, and discrimination based on my HIV status impacts many decisions in my life, such as starting a new job, changing employers, getting health insurance, trying to get life insurance, starting a relationship, or ending a relationship.” She pointed out that “HIV criminalization is the criminalization of behaviors that would not be a criminal act for anyone not living with HIV – HIV criminalization laws reduce people, like me, to our viral status. It is dehumanizing and disempowering.”

Also testifying was Steven R. Bryson, a Sero Project Fellow and staff attorney with the AIDS Law Project of PA. He explained what is confusing to many people about the state’s HIV laws.

“Pennsylvania does not have HIV-specific criminal laws mandating disclosure of one’s HIV positive status prior to engaging in sexual contact. Nor does it specifically outlaw the perceived, potential or actual HIV exposure or transmission,” Bryson’s submitted testimony noted. Instead, his testimony clarifies, “Pennsylvania uses generally applicable criminal laws to prosecute people with HIV even when the act in question has little or no risk of transmitting HIV.”

The hearing was closed with comments from Rep. Kenyatta who said: “Here in Pennsylvania, we can and should do better than this. So many other states have updated their laws and we must work to get these laws off our books.”

Testimony is available at www.pahouse.com/policy.

Mural campaign statewide 

The statewide Take Control of HIV campaign is a collaboration of five organizations: AIDSNET (Mideast), Family Health Council of Central (South Central), North Central District AIDS Coalition (North Central), Northwest Alliance-Clarion University (Northwest), and United Way of Wyoming Valley (North East). Collectively, the sponsoring entities provide a range of vital services and care for thousands of women and children and adolescents each year, which include HIV-AIDS support services.

The mural is full of colorful graphics and messaging regarding the importance of open communication about HIV. On display at the capitol for the month of October, the goal of the mural is to empowers individuals to thrive no matter their HIV status. The mural was created by well-known Harrisburg-based artist Stephen Michael Haas, a multi-disciplined artist inspired by the likes of late 90s cartoons and Super Mario’s squirrels.

Lead organizer Family Health Council of Central PA, Inc. works within a 24-county region with hospitals, federally funded community health centers, freestanding clinics, direct service agencies, WIC centers, HIV/AIDS service organizations, another community-based organizations to provide services to thousands who might otherwise go without needed care.

To learn more, visit www.TakecontrolHIV.com

Argentina: Organisations call for Congress to start discussing new HIV, STIs and Hepatits bill

They demand that the HIV and STI bill be dealt with

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

The new proposal was presented on October 26, 2020. It is the third time it reaches Congress, and different organizations demand that it be debated.

The current HIV regulation (regulation 23.798) dates back to 1990. With the change of contexts and perspectives, it is understandable that it is now outdated and insufficient to guarantee rights.

To reverse this situation, the new bill on HIV, Hepatitis, Tuberculosis and STIs is waiting to be discussed in Congress. As already mentioned, the 24-page document was presented at the end of October and is the result of a network of 40 organizations.

With respect to the current regulation, it establishes a change of perspective: the 1990 regulation has a biomedical approach, while the current draft establishes a gender and human rights approach. It seeks to focus on the social determinants of health and the elimination of stigma.

“It is urgent the treatment because we have a law in force from 1990 that may not be a long time for other laws but for an issue such as HIV or other viral pathologies, taking into account the progress in recent years of science and social behavior in relation to these pathologies, it is necessary to update this purely biomedical character and move to a regulation that is a comprehensive response, with a Human Rights approach,” said Matías Muñoz, president of the Ciclo Positivo Association.

In relation to the previous point, the interviewee commented that although HIV is a virus that runs through people’s blood, it not only has consequences on physical health, but there is a social problem around HIV that is related to stigma and discrimination.

“Currently, a person with HIV has the possibility of accessing treatment free of charge, but there are other social barriers that prevent them from having a good quality of life, such as discrimination in access to employment, job discrimination, dismissal for having HIV, problems in the educational system or with the close environment,” said Muñoz.
Is this the first time that a proposal with these characteristics has been presented? No, the National Front for People’s Health had already worked together with organizations on this project, which entered Congress in 2018, but was shelved.

Following the previous paragraph, on December 1, 2019 it lost parliamentary status. But it was not the first time it happened, in 2016 the same thing happened, despite having favorable opinion of the Social Action and Public Health Committee of the Chamber of Deputies.

It is important to highlight the support that the proposal has from different political parties. We highlight that it bears the signature of 17 deputies of the Frente de Todos, UCR, Coalición Cívica, Pro, Frente de Izquierda y los Trabajadores and Partido Socialista.

Key points of the new bill
In its article 1, it declares of public and national interest -among other things- the medicines, vaccines, procedures and medical products for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of HIV, Viral Hepatitis, Tuberculosis and STIs.

In another of its points, it establishes the integral and intersectoral response, which guarantees, for example, education and sensitization of the population, access to truthful, sufficient and updated information, and the reduction of risks and damages of stigma, discrimination and criminalization towards people with HIV, Viral Hepatitis, Tuberculosis and STIs.

It also includes palliative care and rehabilitation of these pathologies, including associated, derived and concomitant pathologies, as well as the adverse effects derived from them and/or their treatments.

This project contemplates universal and free coverage. The agents of the public health service, social security and prepaid medicine entities are obliged to provide comprehensive assistance to people affected by HIV, Viral Hepatitis, Tuberculosis and STIs.

In a clear way, the Ciclo Positivo Association highlights, among other points, the following:

– Prohibition of HIV, Hepatitis, TB and STI tests to enter a job position, in pre-employment medical examinations.
– Non-contributory pensions for people with HIV and Hepatitis B or C who have unmet needs. Provision of treatment for those who acquired the virus through vertical transmission and for other key populations such as women, transgender people, transvestites and non-binary people, etc.
– Creation of a National Commission on HIV, Hepatitis, TB and STIs integrated by different ministries, scientific societies and civil society organizations working on the issue.
– Extension of the provision of formula milk up to 18 months (previously only up to 6 months) for babies born to positive mothers.
– Creation of the National Observatory of Stigma and Discrimination within the orbit of INADI, in order to prevent the use of HIV infection, Hepatitis B or C, TB or any STI to prevent the exercise of rights.

There are expectations around this third presentation, due to the wide support of the project and the diffusion generated in the social networks in the last weeks, in order to promote its treatment in the Congress.

On this point, the president of Ciclo Positivo, said that “with the stir that has been achieved in the social networks in the last few days, the deputy Pablo Yedlin, president of the Health and Social Action Commission, told us that he is pleased with the possibility of having an opinion in the next few weeks”.

Although such a step would be taken after the primary elections, the claim must be kept in force. “We understand that we have a project supported by all the blocks, and for that reason, we consider that we can achieve the approval this year”, Muñoz concluded.


Exigen que se trate el proyecto de Ley de VIH e ITS

La nueva propuesta fue presentada el 26 de octubre del 2020. Es la tercera vez que llega al Congreso, y diferentes organizaciones reclaman que sea debatida.

La reglamentación vigente (normativa 23.798) de VIH data del año 1990. Con el cambio de contextos y perspectivas, es entedible que ahora esté desactualizada y que sea insuficiente para garantizar derechos.

Para revertir esta situación, el nuevo proyecto de Ley de VIH, Hepatitis, Tuberculosis e ITS espera ser tratado el Congreso. Como ya mencionamos, el documento de 24 páginas se presentó a fines de octubre, y es resultado de una red de trabajo con 40 organizaciones.

Respecto a la normativa vigente, establece un cambio de perspectiva, la de 1990 tiene un enfoque biomédico, en cambio, el proyecto actual fija un enfoque de género y de derechos humanos. Busca poner foco en los determinantes sociales de la salud y la eliminación del estigma.

“Es urgente el tratamiento porque contamos con una ley vigente del año 1990 que puede que para otras leyes no sea mucho tiempo pero para una cuestión como el VIH u otras patologías virales, teniendo en cuenta el avance de estos últimos años de la ciencia y el comportamiento social en relación a estas patologías, es necesario actualizar este carácter puramente biomédico y pasar a una normativa que sea de respuesta integral, con un enfoque de Derechos Humanos”, dijo Matías Muñoz, presidente de la Asociación Ciclo Positivo.

En relación al punto anterior, el entrevistado comentó que si bien, el VIH es un virus que recorre la sangre de las personas, no solamente tiene consecuencias en la salud física, sino que existe una problemática social alrededor del VIH que está relacionada con el estigma y la discriminación.

“Actualmente, una persona con VIH tiene la posibilidad de acceder a su tratamiento de manera gratuita, sin embargo hay otras barreras sociales que impiden que tenga una buena calidad de vida, como puede ser la discriminación en el acceso al empleo, la discriminación laboral, despidos por tener VIH, problemas en el sistema educativa o con el entorno cercano”, comentó Muñoz.
¿Es la primera vez que se presenta una propuesta con estas características? No, el Frente Nacional por la Salud de las Personas ya había trabajado en conjunto con las organizaciones sobre este proyecto, que ingresó al Congreso en 2018, pero fue cajoneado.

Siguiendo el párrafo anterior, el 1 de diciembre de 2019 perdió estado parlamentario. Pero no fue la primera vez que pasó, en 2016 sucedió lo mismo, a pesar de tener dictamen favorable de la Comisión de Acción Social y Salud pública de la Cámara de Diputados.

Es importante destacar el apoyo que tiene la propuesta de diferentes partidos políticos. Resaltamos que lleva la firma de 17 diputados y diputadas del Frente de Todos, UCR, Coalición Cívica, Pro, Frente de Izquierda y los Trabajadores y Partido Socialista.

Puntos claves del nuevo proyecto
En su artículo 1º, declara de interés público y nacional- entre otras cosas- los medicamentos, vacunas, procedimientos y productos médicos para la prevención, diagnóstico, tratamiento y cura del VIH, las Hepatitis Virales, la Tuberculosis y las ITS.

En otro de sus puntos, se establece la respuesta integral e intersectorial, que garantiza, por ejemplo, la educación y sensibilización de la población, un acceso a la información veraz, suficiente y actualizada, y la reducción de riesgos y daños del estigma, la discriminación y la criminalización hacia las personas con VIH, Hepatitis Virales, Tuberculosis e ITS.

Además se comprenden los cuidados paliativos y la rehabilitación de estas patologías, incluyendo las asociadas, derivadas y concomitantes, así como los efectos adversos derivados de las mismas y/o de sus tratamientos.

Este proyecto contempla la cobertura universal y gratuita. Los agentes del servicio público de salud, las obras sociales y las entidades de medicina prepaga, están obligadas a brindar asistencia integral a las personas afectadas por el VIH, las Hepatitis Virales, la Tuberculosis y las ITS.

De manera clara, la Asociación Ciclo Positivo, destaca, entre otros puntos, a los siguientes:

– Prohibición del test de VIH, Hepatitis, TBC e ITS para ingresar a un puesto de trabajo, en los exámenes médicos preocupacionales.
– Pensiones no contributivas para aquellas personas con VIH y Hepatitis B o C que tengan necesidades insatisfechas. Provisión de tratamientos para quienes adquirieron el virus por transmisión vertical y para otras poblaciones clave como mujeres, personas trans, travestis y no binaries, etc.
– Creación de una Comisión Nacional de VIH, Hepatitis, TBC e ITS integrada por distintos ministerios, sociedades científicas y organizaciones de la sociedad civil que trabajen el tema.
– Extensión de la provisión de leche de fórmula hasta los 18 meses (antes llegaba sólo a los 6 meses) para bebés de madres positivas.
– Creación del Observatorio Nacional de Estigma y discriminación en la órbita del INADI, en la búsqueda de que no se pueda utilizar la infección por VIH, Hepatitits B o C, TBC o cualquier ITS para impedir el ejercicio de los derechos.

Hay expectativas en torno a esta tercera presentación, por el amplio apoyo que tiene el proyecto y por la difusión que se generó en las redes sociales en las últimas semanas, para impulsar su tratamiento en el Congrego.

Sobre este punto, el presidente de Ciclo Positivo, dijo que “con el revuelvo que se ha logrado en las redes sociales en los últimos días, el diputado Pablo Yedlin, presidente de la Comisión de Salud y Acción Social, nos dijo que ve con beneplácito la posibilidad de tener dictamen en las próximas semanas”.

Si bien, dicho paso se daría después de las elecciones primarias, hay que mantener el reclamo vigente. “Entendemos que tenemos un proyecto apoyado por todos los bloques, y por eso, consideramos que podemos lograr la media sanción este año”, concluyó Muñoz.

Argentina: New HIV, STI and Hepatitis law under evaluation by Public Health Commission

There will be a new law on sexual diseases, HIV and viral hepatitis

Translation via Deepl.com. For original article in Spanish, please scroll down.

A new law is being evaluated to update the existing legislation to the scientific advances registered for sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and viral hepatitis.

For this purpose, the Senate Public Health Commission met with professionals from the HIV and STI Program of the Ministry of Public Health. A bill on Integral Assistance and Research on Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, Sexually Transmitted Infections and Viral Hepatitis was analyzed.

In this regard, the legislative initiative seeks to update the regulatory framework on the matter, taking into account that both the current provincial Law No. 6660 and the national Law No. 23.798 date back to 1992 and 1990 respectively, and that the treatments and scientific advances in the field of AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Infections have been greatly updated.

The bill declares of provincial interest the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, integral assistance, rehabilitation and research on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and Viral Hepatitis, including their derived pathologies, as well as the measures to avoid their propagation.

It also declares the prevention and early detection of HIV/AIDS, STIs and Viral Hepatitis in pregnant women to be of provincial interest and establishes the prevention of perinatal or vertical transmission as a priority.

The initiative promotes the quality of life, the inclusion, permanence and articulation of networks of people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, STIs and Viral Hepatitis as a mechanism to eliminate discriminatory and exclusionary practices and provides for the repeal of Law 6.660.

Infection rate

The meeting recognized an increase in the rate of infection in the trans and homosexual population, but also in other heterosexual groups of different age groups and referred to the need to increase testing -which is done without the need for a doctor’s order-, to disseminate the use of condoms and to advance in actions against discrimination.

AIDS cases

Dr. Laura Caporaletti and Dr. Marcela Monterichel, director and supervisor of the HIV, STI and Viral Hepatitis Program of the Ministry of Health, considered that it is necessary to provide the province with pioneering legislation that takes into account the medical advances that, for example, now consider HIV as a chronic disease.

They reported that the number of HIV cases in Salta is still striking despite a drop in 2020 due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, as well as the number of cases of congenital syphilis, emphasizing the control of pregnant women to avoid vertical transmission of infections during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. They suggested extending the delivery of milk until the baby is 18 months old and the management of a building for the use of patients from the interior of the country under treatment, under one of the NGOs.


Habrá nueva ley de enfermedades sexuales, VIH y hepatitis virales

Una nueva ley se evalúa para actualizar la legislación existente a los avances científicos registrados por enfermedades de transmisión sexual, VIH y hepatitis virales.
A esos efectos la Comisión de Salud Pública del Senado se reunió con profesionales del Programa de VIH e ITS del Ministerio de Salud Pública. Se analizó un proyecto de Ley de Asistencia Integral e Investigación sobre el Síndrome de Inmunodeficiencia Adquirida, las Infecciones de Transmisión Sexual y las Hepatitis Virales.

Al respecto la iniciativa legislativa busca actualizar el plexo normativo en la materia, teniendo en cuenta que tanto la actual Ley provincial N° 6660, como la Ley nacional N° 23.798, datan del año 1992 y 1990 respectivamente, habiéndose actualizado enormemente los tratamientos y avances científicos tanto en materia de SIDA como de otras infecciones de Transmisión Sexual.

El proyecto de Ley declara de interés provincial la prevención, diagnóstico, tratamiento, asistencia integral, rehabilitación e investigación sobre el Síndrome de Inmunodeficiencia Adquirida (VIH/SIDA), las Infecciones de Transmisión Sexual (ITS) y las Hepatitis Virales, incluyendo la de sus patologías derivadas, como así también, las medidas tendientes a evitar su propagación.

Asimismo, declara de interés provincial la prevención y detección temprana de VIH/SIDA, ITS y Hepatitis Virales en la mujer embarazada y establece el carácter prioritario de la prevención de la transmisión perinatal o vertical.

La iniciativa promueve la calidad de vida, la inclusión, permanencia y articulación de redes de personas que vivan o estén afectadas por VIH/SIDA, ITS y Hepatitis Virales como un mecanismo para eliminar las prácticas discriminatorias y de exclusión y dispone la derogación de la Ley 6.660.

Tasa de contagios

En el encuentro se reconoció un aumento en la tasa de contagio en la población trans y homosexual, pero también en otros grupos heterosexuales de distintas franjas etarias y se refirieron a la necesidad de incrementar testeos -que se hacen sin necesidad de pedido médico-, difundir el uso del preservativo y avanzar en acciones contra la discriminación.

Casos de SIDA

Las doctoras Laura Caporaletti y Marcela Monterichel, directora y supervisora del Programa de VIH, ITS y Hepatitis Virales del ministerio de Salud, consideraron que resulta necesario dotar a la provincia de una legislación pionera que contemple los avances médicos que por ejemplo hoy consideran al HIV como una enfermedad crónica.

Relataron que en Salta sigue siendo llamativo el número de casos de VIH pese a una baja en 2020 adjudicada a las restricciones que impuso la pandemia, del mismo modo que los casos de sífilis congénita, poniendo énfasis en el control de embarazadas para evitar la transmisión vertical de las infecciones tanto en la gestación, como en el parto o el período de lactancia. Sugirieron ampliar la entrega de leche hasta los 18 meses de vida del bebé y la gestión de un inmueble para uso de pacientes del interior en tratamiento, bajo alguna de las ONG.

Uganda to re-consider problematic HIV law provisions

After five years of waiting, the Constitutional Court of Uganda has finally begun to hear a landmark case challenging the overly broad and draconian provisions of the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 2014.

Constitutional Court Judge Christopher Izama Madrama has instructed the Attorney General of the Government of Uganda to submit a formal reply to the HIV Constitutional Petition No. 4 of 2016, after it came up for mention in the Court on August 12th, 2021.

The petition, by a coalition of HIV, human rights, and LGBTQ organisations, seeks for the removal of three problematic clauses in the HIV Prevention and Control Act which was passed on May 13, 2014 by the Ugandan Parliament.

The Act allows for stringent punishments for the vague ‘crimes’ of attempted and intentional HIV transmission. The other problematic provisions in the Act are mandatory HIV testing for pregnant women and their partners and allowing medical providers to disclose a patient’s HIV status to others without consent.

The Act’s problematic provisions have been known to have been used in a broad range of circumstances, including the arrest, conviction, and acquittal of a nurse wrongfully convicted of injecting a baby with HIV-infected blood and the charging of two different women for exposing an infant to HIV via breastfeeding.

This is the one of three pieces of good news from Uganda this week.

Earlier this year, HJN joined other civil society and human rights organisations in condemning the passage of Uganda’s Sexual Offences Bill which would have negatively impacted sex workers, the LGBTQ communities, and people living with HIV.

The Bill defined rape as ‘misrepresentation’, running the very real risk of being interpreted by the criminal legal system as HIV status non-disclosure. If the accused was found to be living with HIV, this would have resulted in the death penalty.

However, last week it was reported that President Museveni declined to sign the Bill into law, saying many provisions are redundant and already provided for in other laws.

In addition, last week Uganda’s Constitutional Court scrapped a controversial anti-pornography law whose provisions included a ban on women wearing miniskirts in public saying the law was “inconsistent with or in contravention of the constitution of the Republic of Uganda.”

Uganda: Constitutional Court begins hearing challenge to HIV criminalization law

The Constitutional Court of Uganda has begun hearing a landmark case on the right to health, in which LGBT and human rights defenders sued the state for criminalisation of HIV transmission and mandatory disclosure of one’s serostatus.

By Kikonyogo Kivumbi

The Uganda Network on Law Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET), on behalf of a coalition of over 50 civil society organisations, is challenging the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Act 2014 which they allege is discriminatory and an impediment to the fight against AIDS. Among controversial provisions in the act are mandatory HIV testing for pregnant women and their partners and allowing medical providers to disclose a patient’s HIV status to others without consent. The law also criminalises HIV transmission, attempted transmission, and behavior that might result in transmission by those who know their HIV status.

Mandatory HIV testing and the disclosure of medical information without consent are contrary to international best practices and violate fundamental human rights, the petitioners say. They also argue that criminalisation of HIV transmission is overly broad and difficult to enforce.

The act is in force and is being used by state agencies as a tool of discrimination and humiliation. LGBT people have complained of forced anal examinations in recent arrests as part of mandatory HIV tests when they are in police custody. Many human rights organisations have called the law flawed and deeply troubling, and in contradiction of science and human rights.

Ugandan homosexuals filled petitions and memoranda to the Ugandan Parliament when the the bill was being considered. The petitions can be accessed here.

Francis Onyango, the counsel for the petitioners told Rights Africa that he was optimistic that the Court wanted to fast-track the matter.

Uganda’s Attorney General has been given to October to file a defense in Constitutional Court. 

The Uganda Harm Reduction Network, a network of activists for drug users also expressed concern that the law drives people who use drugs further from life-saving services they need.

“The act is also not concerned with the challenges that people who use drugs face, such as stigma and discrimination, police harassments and other human rights violations,” the Uganda Harm Reduction Network said in a statement issued after the law was passed.

Uganda’s media is frequently awash with domestic violence and murders, especially of women, resulting from careless handling of victims’ serostatus data, which human rights defenders point back to harmful clauses in the law.

Illinois fully repeals its HIV criminalisation law

This week, the Governor of the US state of Illinois signed a bill that fully repeals its HIV criminalisation law, becoming only the second US state ever to do so.

Illinois’ HIV-specific criminal law was first enacted in 1989, and then “modernized” in 2012. An in-depth investigational analysis examining the history of the law and how it has been applied, published in June by Injustice Watch and the Chicago Reader, found that the law had been used at least 80 times since 1989.

Even after the law was amended in 2012 to include “intent to transmit” as an element of the ‘crime’, it appears to have been (ab)used in 22 criminal cases over the past nine years.

That’s why the Illinois HIV Action Alliance was formed in 2019 with the lofty goal of completely repealing the law. This coalition of more than 25 state and national organisations  – including our HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE partners, Positive Women’s Network-USA and the Sero Project – undertook a huge amount of awareness, education, and outreach.

Read this excellent article published by The Body in June to learn exactly what they did, and how.

Key to their surprisingly rapid success were two political champions, State Senator Robert Peters, and State Representative Carol Ammons.

“Illinois’ HIV criminalisation law was rooted in fear and racial biases,” Senator Peters noted in an Illinois HIV Action Alliance press release. “It was used to abuse people in our state, targeting people living with HIV and disproportionately affecting LGBTQ+ people, women, and Black and Brown communities.”

“Not a single study throughout the country shows HIV criminalisation has reduced HIV transmission in any jurisdiction where it exists,” added Representative Ammons. “It was far past time to get rid of this harmful law, and we thank Governor Pritzker for repealing it once and for all.”

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Facebook page live-streamed the bill signing event, held at the LGBTQ Center on Halsted in Chicago’s ‘Boystown’ on Wednesday. The repeal of the HIV criminalisation law was part of a package of legislation that also included measures to make it easier for couples to receive marriage certificates with gender-neutral language, and to get new certificates if one or both legally change their names subsequent to the initial document being issued.

At the signing, Governor Pritzker called HIV criminalisation laws archaic: “They don’t decrease infection rates, but they do increase stigma,” he said. “It’s high time we treat HIV as we do other treatable transmissible diseases.”

The law’s repeal was effective immediately on signing, but the advocacy doesn’t stop there.

First, the bill does not expunge the records of those who’ve already been prosecuted under the original or updated law.

And second, the first US state to repeal its HIV criminalisation law was Texas, in 1994. However, since then, there have been many unjust prosecutions under general laws, including that of a homeless man whose saliva was considered to be a ‘deadly weapon’ when he spit on a policeman who was arrested him for vagrancy, resulting in a 35 year prison sentence.

Consequently, advocacy is still required to ensure that police and prosecutors implement Watch a special 4-minute 30-second edit, produced by HJN, of the bill signing ceremony that features Timothy Jackson of AIDS Foundation Chicago, who led the Illinois HIV Action Alliance, along with Senator Peters, Representative Ammons, and Governor Pritzker.

[Update]US: Illinois governor signs bill to decriminalise HIV transmission into law

New law repeals criminal penalties for HIV transmission

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill into law Tuesday that repeals criminal penalties for people who transmit HIV to others.

House Bill 1063, sponsored by Rep. Carol Ammons, an Urbana Democrat, and Sen. Robert Peters, a Chicago Democrat, deletes language adopted in Illinois and many other states during the early days of the HIV epidemic that made it a felony for an individual to engage in certain activities such as unprotected sex, donating blood or tissue or sharing nonsterile intravenous needles knowing that he or she was infected with HIV.

“Research has shown these laws … don’t decrease infection rates, but they do increase stigma,” Pritzker said. “It’s high time that we treat HIV as we do other treatable transmissible diseases, thereby treating our residents with dignity and furthering our mission to end this epidemic in Illinois.”

At a bill signing ceremony in Chicago, Pritzker said the legislation is one more step his administration is taking to ensure equal rights for members of the LGBTQ community.

Other steps have included providing financial aid to transgender students who otherwise would not qualify for federal aid, requiring curriculum in public schools that includes contributions of the LGBTQ community, and expanding Medicaid to cover gender-affirming surgery.

Pritzker was joined at the ceremony by Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, Democratic leaders in the General Assembly who helped pass the bill, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and other LGBTQ rights activists.

Peters noted that the law in Illinois did not require that a person actually transmit HIV to be convicted of the crime, only that they engaged in activity that could have exposed another person to the virus.

“Too often, when faced with a challenge in society, we seek the hammer of criminalization,” Peters said. “When we faced the challenge of HIV, our country reacted out of fear, prejudice and hate, and with that brought down a violent and horrendous hammer. In turn, this caused more fear, pain and trauma for people living with HIV. It did nothing to bring safety or treatment or public health to our world.”

The bill decriminalizing HIV was one of four bills Pritzker signed Tuesday that were supported by advocates for LGBTQ rights.

Pritzker also signed two bills making it easier for transgender individuals to change their names and gender identity on marriage certificates.

Senate Bill 139 establishes a process for individuals to change the gender language on their marriage certificates while House Bill 2590 establishes a uniform standard that county clerks must adhere to for name changes on marriage certificates. Those bills were sponsored by Sen. Sara Feigenholtz and Rep. Ann Williams, both Chicago Democrats.

In addition, Pritzker signed a House Bill 3709, which prohibits insurance companies from imposing restrictions on coverage of fertility medications and treatments, enabling LGBTQ individuals and single parents to receive those treatments under the same conditions as heterosexual individuals. It also reduces the waiting time to receive those treatments for women over age 35.

That bill was sponsored by Rep. Margaret Croke, a Chicago Democrat and Sen. Laura Fine, a Glenview Democrat.

“For decades, our state insurance law discriminated against countless Illinoisans looking to welcome a child into their family, putting parenthood financially out of reach for same-sex couples, single women and others,” Croke said in a statement. “Setting things right and creating a more inclusive insurance law was long overdue.”


Published on 25 May 2021 in theDaily Herald

Bill decriminalizing HIV transmission passes Senate

The Illinois Senate on Tuesday passed a measure decriminalizing the transmission of HIV.

The measure has already passed the House and will need only a signature from Gov. J.B. Pritzker to become law.

House Bill 1063 would eliminate existing criminal statutes that penalize HIV transmission as a Class 2 felony. If Pritzker signs the bill, Illinois would join 11 other states that do not have laws criminalizing the transmission of HIV, including Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

HB 1063 also would repeal existing laws allowing law enforcement or state’s attorneys to access a person’s HIV status. Under current criminal law, a person who transmits HIV to another person can be charged with “criminal transmission of HIV.”

Current law prohibits the forced disclosure of a person’s HIV status but provides exceptions for law enforcement officials or state’s attorneys to subpoena or petition for the HIV status of criminal defendants.

The Illinois HIV Action Alliance, which lobbied for the bill, praised its passage.

“The truth is HIV criminalization never improved safety or public health in Illinois — in instead, it has only caused suffering to people living with HIV, their families, and their communities. It has promoted stigma and discrimination, and it has discouraged testing, treatment, and disclosure for decades,” the group wrote in a written statement Tuesday.

Sen. Robert Peters, a Chicago Democrat, sponsored the bill in the Senate, and Rep. Carol Ammons, an Urbana Democrat, was lead sponsor in the House.

It passed out of the Senate by a vote of 37-17 on Tuesday, and passed from the House last month by a vote of 99-9.


Published May 5, 2021 in The Daily Herad

Senate committee advances bills on sex ed, decriminalizing HIV transmission

Legislation that would overhaul sex education in Illinois and a measure to decriminalize the transmission of HIV were among several bills that passed the Senate Executive Committee Wednesday.

The Executive Committee advanced an amendment to House Bill 1063, filed by Rep. Carol Ammons, an Urbana Democrat, and sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Robert Peters, a Chicago Democrat. It passed through the committee in an 11-4 vote to advance to the Senate floor.

Current Illinois law allows for individuals to be charged with “criminal transmission of HIV,” while also allowing for law enforcement to compel criminal defendants to test for HIV/AIDS in order to determine whether to charge them for the crime.

“Those living with HIV deserve to be able to receive treatment for their condition, and not risk arrest or incarceration,” Peters said in a release Wednesday. “It’s time we end the stigma surrounding sexually transmitted diseases and start treating them like the medical conditions that they are.”

The bill would eliminate the charge from Illinois statute, and would amend the AIDS Confidentiality Act — a statute that protects Illinoisans from having an HIV-positive status disclosed — to remove exemptions for law enforcement from the provision.

Lawmakers in the House voted 90-9 last month to pass the legislation. It now needs only majority support in the Senate to be sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his signature.

Other legislation advanced by the committee Wednesday includes a provision that allows teachers unions to collectively refuse to go to work due to abnormally dangerous health and safety conditions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and another extending by three years the length lottery funds will go toward Alzheimer’s disease care.


Published April 15, 2021 in News Press Now

Illinois House votes to decriminalize HIV transmission

The Illinois House Judiciary Criminal Committee advanced two bills Tuesday with unanimous support, one to decriminalize transmission of HIV and another to expand protections for survivors of sexual assault.

An amendment to House Bill 1063, introduced by Democratic state Rep. Carol Ammons, of Urbana, changes several Illinois statutes related to persons living with HIV/AIDS and its transmission. On Wednesday, the House approved the bill 90-9, sending it to the Senate for consideration.

Under current Illinois law, a person who transmits HIV to another person can be charged with “criminal transmission of HIV.”

The AIDS Confidentiality Act, meant to protect Illinoisans from having an HIV-positive status disclosed or used against them, contains exceptions allowing law enforcement officials to subpoena or petition for the HIV status of criminal defendants in order to determine whether they should be charged for potential criminal transmission.

“We would not put a law on the books today that will criminalize COVID for people who refuse to test, and people who know they’re spreading COVID but refused to test and refuse to wear a mask, we would not then criminalize people for knowingly passing COVID,” Ammons told the committee.

Her legislation would repeal existing laws allowing law enforcement or state’s attorneys to access the HIV status of an individual and would remove criminal statutes for the transmission of HIV completely.

“This is why we’re trying to change this law is because this is the only (sexually transmitted infection) that we have on the books that literally criminalizes certain communities and is specifically targeted,” Ammons said.

Witnesses testifying in support of the bill told the committee that the criminal statute has been used in 22 cases since 2012, and fewer than 10 times since 2017.

“HIV and our knowledge about prevention and transmission has dramatically changed in the last 30 to 40 years,” Tom Hughes, executive director of the Illinois Public Health Association said in his testimony. “The (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recognizes that a person who is HIV positive, but who takes medication regularly stays virally suppressed, is undetectable on their viral load, and is effectively no risk for the transmission of HIV.”

According to Hughes, the criminalization of HIV status poses a significant obstacle to public health by incentivizing people to not get tested or disclose their status to their partner out of fear of criminalization.

Under questioning from committee member Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, R-Elmhurst, Hughes said that during his time working for the Illinois Department of Public Health, most cases involving the criminal transmission of HIV “revolved around communities of color” and had a disproportionately negative impact on those groups.

Mazzochi noted that after insulin, HIV medication was “one of our largest spends in the state of Illinois.” She indicated that she would support the measure as long as studies showed it would reduce HIV transmissions rather than increase rates once it became decriminalized.

Ultimately, Mazzochi and other Republicans on the committee joined the Democratic majority to send the legislation to the House floor in a 17-0 vote.

House Bill 1732, introduced by Rep. Maura Hirschauer, D-Batavia, expands protections for sexual assault survivors by amending the Civil No Contact Order Act. That law allows for “victims of non-consensual sexual conduct or penetration” to a receive a court order protecting that person, their family, household or someone providing them services from having contact with the perpetrator of the crime.

HB 1732 already passed the committee unanimously last month, but Hirschauer brought it back with an amendment. The version that passed previously allowed for family or household members of the victim to file the petition on their behalf.

Hirschauer’s amendment to her bill, which she presented to the committee Tuesday, requires a statement verifying that the victim consented to the petition for it to be filed this way. It also advanced to the House floor in a unanimous 17-0 vote.

Senate Bill 2277, which appeared before the Illinois Senate Criminal Law Committee on Tuesday, would also make civil no contact orders filed against those convicted of criminal sexual assault permanent instead of lasting 2 years. That measure was also passed committee unanimously.