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High-level commission finds an epidemic of bad laws is stifling the global AIDS response
Date:7/9/2012

and injecting drug usersdrive people underground, away from essential health services and heighten their risk of HIV. Laws that criminalise HIV transmission, exposure or non-disclosure of HIV status discourage people from getting tested and treated. More specifically:

  • In more than 60 countries, it is a crime to expose another person to or transmit HIV. More than 600 HIV-positive people across 24 countries, including the United States, have been convicted of such crimes. These laws and practices discourage people from seeking an HIV test and disclosing their status.
  • 78 countries criminalise same-sex sexual activity. Iran and Yemen impose the death penalty for sexual acts between men; Jamaica and Malaysia punishes homosexual acts with lengthy imprisonment. These laws make it difficult to prevent HIV amongst those most vulnerable to infection.
  • Even though they may provide harm reduction services informally, laws in some countries criminalise some aspects of proven harm reduction services for injecting drug users, including in Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Malaysia and the Philippines. In contrast, countries that legalise harm reduction services, like Switzerland and Australia, have almost completely stopped new HIV infections among injecting drug users.
  • More than 100 countries criminalise some aspect of sex work. The legal environment in many countries exposes sex workers to violence and results in their economic and social exclusion. It also prevents them from accessing essential HIV prevention and care services.
  • Laws and customs that disempower women and girls, from genital mutilation to denial of property rights, undermine their ability to negotiate safe sex and to protect themselves from HIV infection. 127 countries do not have legislation against marital rape.
  • Laws and policies that deny young people access to sex education, harm reduction and reproductive and HIV services help spread HIV.
  • Excessive intellectual prop
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Contact: Benjamin Humphrey
bhumphrey@globalhealthstrategies.com
212-929-7888 x24
Global Commission on HIV and the Law
Source:Eurekalert

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