10 Reasons to Oppose Criminalization of HIV Exposure or Transmission

Posted by ARASA on August 5, 2010

The push to apply criminal law to HIV exposure and transmission is often driven by the wish to respond to serious concerns about the ongoing rapid spread of HIV inmany countries, coupled by what is perceived to be a failure of existing HIV prevention efforts.

These concerns are legitimate.

Recently, particularly in Africa, some groups have begun to advocate for criminalization in response to the serious phenomenon
of women being infected with HIV through sexual violence or by partners who do not reveal their HIV diagnoses to them.
While these issues must be urgently addressed, a closer analysis of the complex issues raised by criminalization of HIV exposure or transmission reveals that criminalization is unlikely to prevent new infections or reduce women’s vulnerability to HIV. In fact, it may harm women rather than assist them, and negatively impact
both public health and human rights.

This document provides ten reasons why criminalizing HIV exposure or transmission is generally an unjust and ineffective public policy.