HIV and the criminal justice system

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) has transformed HIV infection into a chronic manageable condition and reduces the risk of onward HIV transmission. In light of this, UNAIDS published a document in May 2013 entitled: ‘Ending overly broad criminalization of HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission: critical scientific, medical and legal considerations’. However, the criminal law continues to be used in an overly broad fashion against people living with HIV in legal settings around the world. This expert consensus statement sets out the science on the risk of HIV transmission by type of sexual act, condom use, ART, and viral load using language that judges and lawyers can understand (low, negligible, and no possibility of transmission). It also presents the most recent information on the life expectancy of people living with HIV in the era of ART. This article constitutes essential reading, along with the 2013 UNAIDS document, for anyone involved in prosecuting, defending, or judging cases of HIV non-disclosure.


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