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

Dayton Man’s Arrest Shines Light on Ohio’s Outdated Laws on HIV Criminalization

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eight states, including nearby Michigan and Illinois, have reformed or repealed one or more parts of their HIV-specific criminal laws, but Ohio is one of 32 states that have HIV-specific criminal laws and/or sentence enhancements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

From the Center for HIV Law & Policy

 

The Laws

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dayton Arrest and Press Release

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

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

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

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

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

Jones agrees that the coverage does more harm than good.

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

Reforming the Laws

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ignite Action:

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

US: Senator introduces a bill in Nevada that would modernise HIV laws in line with other communicable diseases

Democratic Senator seeks overhaul of HIV laws she says will help remove stigma

Sen.  (D-Las Vegas) has introduced a bill that would modernize the state’s laws on human immunodeficiency virus by treating HIV in the same way as other communicable diseases.

The bill aims to reverse practices established decades ago during the height of the AIDS epidemic — when little was known about HIV and AIDS — that have disproportionately affected already marginalized groups, including people of color and LGBTQ+ people.

“The priority for me is equality,” Harris said. “The goal is to remove the statutory stigma that was intentionally placed into our laws all the way across the country that’s done nothing but harm to those who have contracted HIV.”

The bill, SB275, would repeal a Nevada statute that makes it a felony for someone who has tested positive for HIV to intentionally, knowingly or willfully engage in conduct that is intended or likely to transmit the disease. Repealing that statute would mean a person who has contracted HIV and who engaged in such behavior would instead be given a warning as their first offense and, after a second offense, would be guilty of a misdemeanor — a punishment that is in line with the treatment of other communicable diseases, such as chlamydia and SARS.

“These laws were written back in the ‘80s and ‘90s,” said André Wade, chair of the state’s Advisory Task Force on HIV Exposure Modernization. “Whenever there’s a specific call out of HIV, instead of including it as a communicable disease … then that, in and of itself, is stigmatizing.”

Wade, who also serves as the state director for Silver State Equality, an LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, explained that modernizing the laws is important because HIV is treated as though it is different and worse than other communicable diseases, even though it is not.

In 2019, the state’s HIV/AIDS Surveillance Program found that 11,769 Nevadans were living with HIV, with 27.6 percent of that group identified as Black, even though Black Nevadans comprise just 10.3 percent of the state’s population.

Laws criminalizing HIV arose at a time when little was known about the virus and treatment of the disease. However, as medicine has advanced, prevention medications have been created that eliminate the risk of HIV transmission. And public health experts have also learned that the virus does not spread through saliva, tears or sweat, or by hugging, shaking hands, sharing toilets or sharing dishes.

Samuel Garrett-Pate, communications director for Silver State Equality, said that outdated HIV laws have actually made it more difficult to contain the spread of the virus because of the stigma associated with the laws.

“We recognize that not only have these laws not worked to protect people from the transmission of HIV,” Garrett-Pate said. “They’ve actually been counterproductive … They actually discourage testing. They discourage people from learning their status. They discourage people from disclosing their status.”

Harris said she wants to encourage more testing, and an important step in doing that is removing discriminatory language in the law. Her HIV modernization bill includes provisions to update the language around HIV and other communicable diseases and to ensure that people living with HIV are referred to more respectfully in state laws.

Harris also noted the importance of ensuring equality for all through the bill, including for sex workers and inmates. The bill would repeal a Nevada statute that allows for the segregation of inmates who have tested positive for HIV — which would codify into law a directive from a February settlement between the Department of Justice and the Nevada Department of Corrections that banned the segregation practice.

The bill is also aimed at addressing the spread of communicable diseases as a public health matter, rather than through criminalization.

Existing law allows health authorities to take certain action to investigate and control the spread of communicable disease, including ordering a person to be examined for the presence of a disease and ordering the isolation, quarantine or treatment of a person.

The bill would require any such order to include the reasons why the ordered actions are necessary to prevent, suppress or control the communicable disease.

The initiatives come largely from the work of Silver State Equality and the HIV task force.

The task force — established in the 2019 session through SB284, a bill that was sponsored by now termed-out Sen.  (D-Las Vegas) — was created to address stigma surrounding HIV and to update HIV laws in Nevada based on how the public health understanding of the virus has advanced over previous decades.

Since its commencement, the task force has worked to create a report ahead of the current session that includes many of the recommendations realized in Harris’s bill. And with a provision in the bill that would re-establish the task force for the 2021-22 legislative interim, the task force could continue its work on understanding how Nevada’s HIV laws affect those who have contracted the virus.

Wade and Harris both acknowledged that there is more work to be done beyond what made it into the bill, but Wade said he thinks that the bill does most of what he and the task force sought to accomplish.

Harris said she has another bill, SB211, that would require primary care providers to offer STD and HIV testing to anyone aged 15 and older and that would work in tandem with SB275.

“Testing, testing, testing, right. If we learned anything from coronavirus, it’s, ‘go get tested,’” Harris said. “So that’s another piece. I’m hoping that’s going to work together with this modernization bill to break down some of those barriers.”

The HIV modernization bill is scheduled for its first hearing during a meeting of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday. Harris said she expects a positive response.

“I expect it to be well received,” Harris said. “The task force has done a lot of the groundwork on this… This is a result of months and months and multiple meetings with law enforcement, with [district attorney] aides, with communities of those who are living with HIV… with our health departments, with all of the stakeholders at the table.”

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US: Bill in Pennsylvania would increase penalty for spitting on police officer to felony if HIV positive

Pennsylvania state House passes bill upping penalty for spitting on police officers

A central Pennsylvania lawmaker’s bill to potentially give prison time to anyone who intentionally spits on a cop is on its way to the state Senate.

The state House voted 146-56 earlier this week to approve the bill sponsored by Rep. Louis Schmitt (R-Blair) earlier this week.

Under existing law, spitting on a police officer is treated the same as spitting on any other person. The perpetrator could be charged with disorderly conduct, Schmitt told the Capital-Star.That currently could be charged as either a summary offense or a third degree misdemeanor, with penalties ranging from a fine of $25 to $1,000, and up to a year in prison.

Schmitt’s bill would bump up spitting, or knowingly throwing any other bodily substances, such as blood, urine, or feces, on a police officer to a first degree misdemeanor. That’s punishable with two-and-a-half to five years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000.

Spitting, argued Schmitt — an attorney by trade — “is done in an effort to antagonize and perhaps provoke a response from the officer.”

“It’s so disrespectful and dehumanizing to do this, to bait the office into striking back,” he added.The Pennsylvania state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union opposed the legislation, arguing the bill “needlessly expand[ed] the crimes code.”

The bill “would add yet another offense for police to selectively enforce and for prosecutors to wield when charging a defendant,” the ACLU added.

Since 2010, the number of crimes that citizens can be charged with has more than doubled, from 636 to more than 1,500, according to the group.

During the House’s floor debate, lawmakers brought up an additional issue. As written, the bill elevated the misdemeanor to a felony if the spitter had a communicable disease. The bill also specifically notes Hepatitis-B and HIV-AIDS.

This matches the existing law for “bodily fluid assault,” Schmitt said.

Right now, the only specific statute covering spitting applies if the offender is a prisoner. In that case, spitting on anyone else, including a police officer or corrections officer, is automatically a felony if the prisoner is “infected by a communicable disease, including, but not limited to, [HIV] or hepatitis B.”

The language was written in the 1990s, Schmitt said. When he wrote his law adding police as a protected class, that language carried.

However, according to the federal government, saliva cannot spread the disease.

Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) and one of the chamber’s two openly gay lawmakers, said the proposal is “bad medicine, it is bad science, and it is certainly bad policing.”

Democratic efforts to amend out HIV and Hepatitis out of the bill failed in floor votes. But Sims later tweeted that he personally called the state Fraternal Order of Police to get their support to axe the language. The influential police union confirmed it approved of the edit, and Schmitt has also agreed to the change.

Schmitt told the Capital-Star that he was only made aware of the language’s issues right before the final vote, and was convinced that removing it would improve his bill and all existing state law.

“Those statues probably need to be updated as well,” Schmitt told the Capital-Star. “It’s antiquated [and] I agree it stigmatizes.”

The bill now heads to the Senate. Schmitt called for the upper chamber to strip out the HIV language. He thought Gov. Tom Wolf might even veto his proposal if it wasn’t addressed.

Schmitt added he was interested in having a conversation about adopting stiffer penalties for all people who spit on others, regardless of their job.

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

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

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

Author: Ekaterina Ivaschenko

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

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

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

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

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

How deportation law turns migrants into illegal immigrants

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

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

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

The hidden HIV epidemic: statistics and causes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Екатерина Иващенко

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

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

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

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

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

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

Как закон о депортации превращает мигрантов в нелегалов

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

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

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

Скрытая эпидемия ВИЧ: статистика и причины

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US: Decriminalising HIV would protect disadvantaged communities from HIV infection and further marginalisation

HIV criminalization perpetuates intersecting forms of discrimination

Imagine you are a transgender Black woman in Florida. You are already facing housing and workplace discrimination, gender-based violence and social and institutional racism. One of your few options for financial support is sex work, but you do not plan to have intercourse with clients. Unfortunately, a sting operation leads you to be taken to the police station. You wonder why the cisgender white woman you work alongside was not caught. Upon arrival at the station, you are forced to get tested for HIV. You test positive. You are now a convicted felon and may have to register as a sex offender.

This fictional narrative illustrates the severity of the criminalization of HIV in the United States and is an accurate representation of the discrimination felt by LGBT, non-white individuals, sex workers and those who experience the intersectional disenfranchisement of multiple identities. According to Avert Global Information and Education on HIV and AIDS, transgender people are 49 times more likely to be affected by HIV than the general world population. Over half a million Americans have died since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. A disproportionate number of these people were non-white, LGBT or both. By looking at the Movement Advancement Project’s maps of states with HIV laws, 34 states still discriminated against those with HIV in 2020, with transgender women being the most globally discriminated against. HIV should be nationally decriminalized since the penalties only further marginalize disadvantaged communities.

A 2017 article by the National LGBT Task Force and the Center for HIV Law & Policy states that transgender sex workers are “nearly six times as likely to be living with HIV than the general trans population, and 25 times as likely relative to the general population.” Transgender women, especially those who are non-white, are profiled significantly more for sex work.The data illustrates how transgender women are more at risk of being presumed HIV positive, which perpetuates transphobic, homophobic, sexist and racist discriminatory practices.

Some may argue that decriminalizing HIV will lead to an increase in cases. In fact, data has been shown that HIV criminalization laws disincentivize HIV testing. This is because in some states, it is mandatory that the arrestee be tested once entering the police station. A 2015 study by Yang, et al. found that the decriminalization of sex work could actually reduce 33-45% of new HIV infections, illustrating the counterproductive attributes of HIV criminalization. Data has also shown that HIV penalties are significantly based on one’s race and sex, which caused the state of California to change HIV charges of sex workers from felonies to misdemeanors. While this change in California is an improvement, officials can still discriminate based on race, sexual orientation and gender identity. Overall, this illustrates that the criminalization of HIV is maintained in order to keep a discriminatory social hierarchy that hurts transgender women’s social mobility, especially Black transgender women.

The differences of prosecution among states is important because data shows that transgender women can be prosecuted for even non-transmissible actions. Data by the Movement Advancement Project shows 17% of the American LGBT population lives in a state where there is an HIV criminalization law, HIV-specific sentencing and/or laws that may require individuals to register as sex offendes; 35% lives “in a state with a HIV criminalization law;” and 21% in a state without a HIV criminalization law but where a positive status does affect sentencing. Liberal states, such as Massachusetts, criminalize exposure to, as well as transmission of, HIV. Sex workers can be charged with a felony for spitting or biting — even though neither action spreads HIV. This further shows that states have multiple avenues to discriminate against marginalized groups through the criminalization of HIV. The evidence illustrates the need to decriminalize HIV on a national level to protect marginalized communities, especially  transgender women, transgender women of color and Black transgender women. By decriminalizing HIV, Americans are further protected from infection and forms of discrimination.

Nigeria: Jigawa State adopts law recommending death penalty in cases of rape resulting in HIV transmission

Jigawa Assembly passes law stipulating life sentence for rapist

The violence against persons prohibition law also stipulates death penalty for rape convicts who infect their victims with HIV/AIDS.

The Jigawa State House of Assembly on Wednesday passed a law that stipulates a life sentence for rape.

The violence against persons prohibition law also stipulates death penalty for rape convicts who infect their victims with HIV/AIDS.

The passage of the bill followed the adoption of the report of the House Committee on Justice and Judiciary.

The committee is chaired by Abubakar Jallo and has seven other members.

After deliberation and subsequent adoption of the report by the committee of the Whole House, the Speaker, Idris Garba, announced the passage of the bill into law.

The bill was unanimously agreed by the 30 House members representing the 27 council areas of the state.

The law, to be transmuted to Governor Muhammed Badaru for assent, has 58 recommendations, including life imprisonment for rape offenders and death sentence without an option of fine for infecting rape victim (s) with HIV/AIDS.

After the plenary, Mr Jallo told reporters that rape victim(s) would be compensated with not less than N500,000, while the court would order rape offender to be subjected to public shame through radio announcements and other means the court may deem fit.

Mr Jallo, representing Hadejia constituency, added that the use of chemical, biological or any harmful substance that causes lifetime deformity on the victim will attract life imprisonment without an option of fine.

Mexico: Deputy proposes prison sentence for “stealthing” that results in STI or pregnancy

MC seeks prison for whoever removes a condom without consent

The deputy of the Citizen Movement, Juan Martín Espinoza Cárdenas, proposed to punish from three to eight years in prison and a fine of 80 days to those who do not use or stop using a condom during sexual intercourse without consent and results in a venereal disease or unwanted pregnancy.

The initiative that adds a fourth paragraph to the Article 199 Bis of the Federal Criminal Code, assigned to the Justice Commission, seeks to regulate the practice known as “stealthing”.

Mention that the term Stealthing means stealthily or secretly, and it is a practice that originated in the United States in which the right of men to spread “their seed” is idealized, which results in unwanted pregnancies and, worse, sexually transmitted infections. Human Papilloma (HPV) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

« This type of practices that is increasing in the world, are extremely dangerous, since they can not only cause unwanted pregnancies, but also sexually transmitted diseases that endanger the health and lives of citizens », adds the initiative.

It mentions that according to the National Institute of Women between 1983 and 2019 there were 210,104 new cases of people with HIV-AIDS, of which the 84.9 percent are men and 15.1 percent women. In 2018 alone, 13,137 new cases of HIV-AIDS were diagnosed.

« Our country is not the exception, since sexually transmitted diseases or infections have been increasing, » he emphasizes.

Refers that the organization Adis Healthcare Foundation points out that in Mexico on average only six out of ten Mexicans use a condom during sexual intercourse.

While the National Center for the Prevention and Control of HIV-AIDS (CENSIDA) cites that 41 people are infected with HIV every day. Coupled with that Mexico ranks first worldwide in unwanted pregnancies in adolescents between 15 and 19 years of age.

It highlights that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), every day more than one million people in the world contract some type of sexually transmitted infection, and estimates that in 2016 there were approximately 376 million new infections divided into: chlamydia (127 million), gonorrhea (87 million), syphilis (6.3 million) and trichomoniasis (156 million).

Furthermore, the WHO reports that there are about 500 million people who have the Herpes Simplex Virus (VPS) and more than 300 million women who are infected by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is the leading cause of cervical cancer, he points out.

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Diputado de MC busca prisión para quien se quite condón sin consentimiento de la pareja

Juan Martín Espinoza Cárdenas propuso sancionar también con 80 días de multa, a quien deje de utilizar preservativo durante las relaciones sexuales.

El diputado de Movimiento Ciudadano, Juan Martín Espinoza Cárdenas, propuso sancionar de tres a ocho años de prisión y 80 días de multa, a quien no utilice o deje de utilizar preservativo durante las relaciones sexuales sin consentimiento y dé como resultado una enfermedad venérea o embarazo no deseado.

La iniciativa que adiciona un párrafo cuarto al artículo 199 Bis del Código Penal Federal, turnada a la Comisión de Justicia, busca regular la práctica conocida como “stealthing”. Menciona que el término “stealthing” significa sigiloso o secretamente, y es una práctica que se originó en Estados Unidos en la que se idealiza el derecho de los hombres a propagar “su semilla” que trae como consecuencias embarazos no deseados y, peor aún, infecciones de transmisión sexual, Virus de Papiloma Humano (VPH) y Virus de Inmunodeficiencia Humana (VIH). 

“Este tipo de prácticas que va en aumento en el mundo, son sumamente peligrosas, ya que no solamente pueden provocar embarazos no deseados, sino enfermedades de transmisión sexual que ponen en peligro la salud y la vida de las y los ciudadanos”, añade la iniciativa.

 “Nuestro país no es la excepción, ya que han ido en aumento las enfermedades o infecciones de transmisión sexual”, subraya. Refiere que la organización Adis Healthcare Foundation señala que en México en promedio sólo seis de cada diez mexicanos utilizan el condón durante las relaciones sexuales.

Mientras que el Centro Nacional para la Prevención y Control del VIH-Sida(CENSIDA) cita que cada día se infectan 41 personas de VIH. Aunado a que México ocupa el primer lugar a nivel mundial en embarazos no deseados en adolescentes de entre 15 y 19 años.

Destaca que de acuerdo con la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS), cada día más de un millón de personas en el mundo contraen algún tipo de infección de transmisión sexual, y estima que en 2016 hubo aproximadamente 376 millones de nuevas infecciones divididas en: clamidiasis (127 millones), gonorrea (87 millones), sífilis (6.3 millones) y tricomoniasis (156 millones).

Además, la OMS reporta que existen alrededor de 500 millones de personas que padecen el Virus del Herpes Simple (VPS) y más de 300 millones de mujeres que están infectadas por el Virus de Papiloma Humano (VPH) que es la primera causa de cáncer cervicouterino, puntualiza.​

 
 

Kyrgyzstan: Amnesty law rules out release of prisoners living with HIV as not applying to “diseases that pose a danger to others”

HIV/AIDS prisoners are discriminated and not amnestied

Human rights defenders are trying to achieve the return of HIV / AIDS to the list of diseases that are the basis for presenting convicts with release from serving their sentences.

According to the public foundation “Positive dialogue”, HIV / AIDS and tuberculosis became the cause of death of prisoners in 78 % of cases in 2018. In 2019, statistics was improved slightly and the death rate of convicts from these diseases was decreased to 59 % of the total number of deaths.

In May 2020, the Parliament of the republic adopted the amnesty law in connection with the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 and the 10th anniversary of the people’s April revolution in 2010. However, according to human rights activists, according to this normative act, not a single prisoner with a diagnosis of AIDS was released from prison. This possibility was ruled out by one of the articles of the amnesty law, which states that its application doesn’t apply to convicts suffering from diseases that pose a danger to others. For example, infectious and venereal diseases.

According to the law, amnesty for such persons is applied only after completion of the course of treatment. But, as human rights activists note, although HIV / AIDS is classified as an infectious disease, it doesn’t have a strictly defined course of treatment. Antiretroviral therapy, as a combination of three medicines that suppresses the HIV virus to the maximum and contains the progression of the disease, is prescribed for life.

“Restrictions on the use of amnesty for treatable diseases are not effective for HIV because HIV is not treatable and is not randomly transmitted. Such restrictions for the non-application of amnesty cannot be called objective and reasonable,” the public foundation “Positive dialogue” believes.

In August 2020, the representatives of the foundation appealed to the State Penitentiary Service of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republican AIDS Center with a proposal to consider the issue of including HIV / AIDS in the list of diseases that are the basis for release for prisoners from serving sentences, as well as to include it in the list of diagnoses that prevent detention, and initiate the procedure for making additions to the specified decrees of the government of the Kyrgyz Republic.

“Such a measure will reduce mortality from HIV and HIV-associated diseases, improve the treatment of sick convicts and will be a proof of the humanistic principles of the penal legislation,” the appeal says.

Human rights activists emphasize that convicts living with HIV are under constant pressure from discrimination and inequality: they cannot be exempted from serving their sentences due to illness and cannot be amnestied by law simply because of their status.

In response, the State Service for the Execution of Punishments reported that in 2017, as part of the judicial and legal reform initiated by the Republican AIDS Center, clinical stage 4 of HIV infection was excluded from the list of diseases that are grounds for release, since concomitant diseases occurring at this stage of infection, were already on the list. At the same time, the working group, that made such a decision, included, on an equal basis with other government agencies, the Republican AIDS Center, which is a specialized national body for the development of measures to prevent HIV / AIDS.

The response of the Republican Center to the request of human rights activists was shocking. It says that the department considers it “inappropriate to include a separate line of people living with HIV in the above lists of diseases”.

“The penitentiary system of the republic has access to testing, treatment with the provision of necessary medicines for HIV treatment, departmental medical institutions for prisoners with the necessary level of conditions for therapy. AIDS service specialists conduct systematic examinations and consultations of patients with serious conditions, subject to their notification”, assured in the Center.

At the same time, representatives of the public foundation “Positive dialogue” have information that during the acute phase of the coronavirus pandemic, convicts with AIDS / HIV received practically no appropriate medical and psychological assistance equivalent to that provided to those who wasn’t in places of imprisonment.

Also, the Republican AIDS Center believes that prisoners don’t die from HIV in prisons, but from diseases associated with this infection.

In addition, the department notes that according to the electronic tracking system for HIV cases since the implementation of the Laws of the Kyrgyz Republic № 53 “On amnesty in connection with the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 and 10 anniversary of the people’s April revolution in 2010” (dated May 8, 2020) and № 34 “On probation” (dated February 24, 2017), the number of convicts with HIV was decreased by 2 times. This, in the opinion of the relevant national body for the fight against AIDS, is a confirmation of the effectiveness of these legal acts.

Meanwhile, the fact of the absence of real statistics on deaths of prisoners from AIDS was confirmed in an interview with one of the local media by the deputy director of the Republican AIDS Center Aybek Bekbolotov. In particular, he told the reporters the following, “We cannot regulate the statistics, because many, when they take a death certificate, don’t want it to be written ‘HIV infection’. Many pass as dead from other diseases. There is a difference between us and the National Statistical Committee.”

“The correspondence with the administration of a medical institution shows how the personal opinion of one person becomes decisive for the fate of many people. Not people, not patients, but the state interests, the interests of the department, statistics – this, I think, is the main pattern – is the scheme of actions of state officials. And this despite the fact that the considerable funds from international donors were allocated for education and material support of the staff of the Republican AIDS Center. How can we assess the activities of the Republican AIDS Center after that?” the lawyer of the Coalition against Torture, Arsen Ambaryan, is indignant.

US: North Dakota Legislature rejects bill to modernise outdated HIV-criminalisation law

North Dakota lawmakers reject bill to soften HIV transmission law

The bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Gretchen Dobervich, D-Fargo, said the penalty for knowingly transmitting HIV is unfairly harsh and doesn’t align with the infractions North Dakotans face if they willfully infect someone with any other sexually transmitted disease, such as hepatitis or syphilis.

BISMARCK — The Republican-led North Dakota House of Representatives widely rejected a bill on Wednesday, Jan. 13, that would have lessened the penalty for knowingly transmitting HIV.

Currently, residents who consciously infect a sexual partner with the virus could face a Class A felony, which comes with up to 20 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. House Bill 1106 would have made the offense an infraction, which carries a fine up to $1,000 and no jail time.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Gretchen Dobervich, D-Fargo, said the penalty for knowingly transmitting HIV is unfairly harsh and doesn’t align with the infractions North Dakotans face if they willfully infect someone with any other sexually transmitted disease, such as hepatitis or syphilis.

All but one Republican on the House Judiciary Committee voted to give the bill a “Do Not Pass” recommendation on Tuesday, Jan. 12, because they believed an infraction for transmitting HIV was not a harsh enough punishment.

Only three people have been convicted with a felony under the current law.

There were an estimated 468 North Dakota residents with HIV in 2019, but 80% are virally suppressed, meaning they are very unlikely to transmit the virus, according to the state Department of Health.

China: Southwest Yunnan Province to roll out new regulation making HIV non-disclosure a criminal liability

HIV-hit Yunnan mulls legal punishment for HIV/AIDS patients who conceal conditions from spouses, sex partners

Southwest China’s Yunnan Province, a region most affected by HIV in China, will roll out a new regulation next year where HIV/AIDS patients who conceal their condition from their partners will be prosecuted for criminal liability. The regulation has immediately sparked heated discussions. 

Yunnan recently issued the strict measures to prevent and control AIDS in the province, which would come into effect next March. The rules specify that medical institutions have the right to inform HIV/AIDS patients’ spouses and sex partners if the patients themselves fail to do so. 

It also said that those who conceal the information from their spouses or sex partners would be held accountable under the law. 

For residents who live in AIDS-prevalent areas, the regulation said, there would be free HIV screening for couples before marriage. In addition, it ordered all government bodies, organizations and companies to include HIV tests in physical examinations, and civil servants to take the test every half a year. 

As soon as the rules came out, they drew controversy on social media platforms, where citizens argued over whether the rules have tilted the balance between personal privacy and public health. The topic garnered on Monday 230 million views and nearly 9,000 comments as of press time. 

While some citizens supported the regulation and called for pre-marriage HIV-screening to be promoted nationwide, some asked if the rules will intrude on HIV-infected patients’ privacy.

Liu Wei, director of the Chinese Association of STD and AIDS Prevention and Control, told the Global Times on Monday that the rule on medical institutions’ right to inform patients’ sex partners requires further clarification. 

To diagnose an AIDS patient requires two steps – initial screening and confirmation. Only when a person gets positive results in both tests can he or she be confirmed, which means that medical institutions that have the right to inform must be those with AIDS confirmation qualifications, such as the local disease control and prevention center or other authorized units,” Liu explained. 

With these clarifications given, observers believe that the rule will prioritise the right to health, while guaranteeing patients’ privacy to the largest extent. 

If the AIDS patients choose to engage in sexual activities with another person, then the right to health of the people exposed should be placed above the patients’ privacy, analysts said. Since the rule only grants the institutions the right to inform partners rather than the general public, the patients’ privacy can also be protected, analysts noted.

They noted that many cases showed that AIDS patients who chose to inform their spouses or sex partners with courage usually won more respect, rather than discrimination.

Liu said the new measures should also take into consideration patients’ mental well-being, by allowing a “buffer period” for them to accept the devastating news and prepare themselves to inform their close contacts.

Medical institutions should also provide patients with psychological counseling and consulting services. 

Yunnan is the most affected area by HIV. The province reported 8,723 new cases in 2019, bringing the total to 111,700. Sex transmission remained the major cause, which accounted for 97.5 percent of the total in 2020. Needle injection and mother-to-child transmission continued to drop, the local government announced on December 1.