Abolish the criminalization of HIV

December 19, 2011

Routine criminal prosecutions for not disclosing HIV status should be abolished, write three HIV/AIDS experts in an article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

"In Canada, despite remarkable medical advances that have made HIV/AIDS a manageable illness, recent years have seen an escalation in the number of people prosecuted for allegedly exposing sexual partners to the virus," write M-J Milloy, Thomas Kerr and Julio Montaner of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, BC. "An upcoming case being heard in February 2012 at the Supreme Court of Canada will likely set a new legal precedent to guide police and prosecutors. While some aspects of this case may well deserve a full and fair prosecution, there is no evidence that criminal prosecutions for HIV-nondisclosure protect individuals from infection."

The risk of transmission of HIV from appropriately treated people is now exceedingly low, the authors write, thanks to advancements in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has been remarkably successful in suppressing production of the virus, resulting in people being in long-term remission. As well, these prosecutions can lead to stigmatization of people infected with HIV, curtailing reporting of the virus and disrupting prevention activities.

"Today, there is a strong scientific basis to eliminate routine prosecutions for HIV nondisclosure," write the authors. "Furthermore, these criminal prosecutions generate stigma and discrimination that interferes with best medical practices and, as such, has multiple unintended negative consequences. Prosecutions put the life of people living with HIV/AIDS at risk, increase the risk of HIV transmission and health care costs, and ultimately place the public at higher risk."

The authors say that the Criminal Code has appropriate measures to deal with people with HIV who are aware of their status and act with intent to harm others.

"Today, HAART has changed HIV/AIDS into a chronic manageable condition and has emerged as the most powerful strategy to prevent new infections through vertical, blood-borne or sexual routes," state the authors.

"It is time to embrace the scientific evidence, recognize the ability of HAART to virtually eliminate the transmission of HIV, and do away with criminal prosecutions for HIV nondisclosure," they conclude.
-end-


Canadian Medical Association Journal

Related HIV Articles from Brightsurf:

BEAT-HIV Delaney collaboratory issues recommendations measuring persistent HIV reservoirs
Spearheaded by Wistar scientists, top worldwide HIV researchers from the BEAT-HIV Martin Delaney Collaboratory to Cure HIV-1 Infection by Combination Immunotherapy (BEAT-HIV Collaboratory) compiled the first comprehensive set of recommendations on how to best measure the size of persistent HIV reservoirs during cure-directed clinical studies.

The Lancet HIV: Study suggests a second patient has been cured of HIV
A study of the second HIV patient to undergo successful stem cell transplantation from donors with a HIV-resistant gene, finds that there was no active viral infection in the patient's blood 30 months after they stopped anti-retroviral therapy, according to a case report published in The Lancet HIV journal and presented at CROI (Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections).

Children with HIV score below HIV-negative peers in cognitive, motor function tests
Children who acquired HIV in utero or during birth or breastfeeding did not perform as well as their peers who do not have HIV on tests measuring cognitive ability, motor function and attention, according to a report published online today in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Efforts to end the HIV epidemic must not ignore people already living with HIV
Efforts to prevent new HIV transmissions in the US must be accompanied by addressing HIV-associated comorbidities to improve the health of people already living with HIV, NIH experts assert in the third of a series of JAMA commentaries.

The Lancet HIV: Severe anti-LGBT legislations associated with lower testing and awareness of HIV in African countries
This first systematic review to investigate HIV testing, treatment and viral suppression in men who have sex with men in Africa finds that among the most recent studies (conducted after 2011) only half of men have been tested for HIV in the past 12 months.

The Lancet HIV: Tenfold increase in number of adolescents on HIV treatment in South Africa since 2010, but many still untreated
A new study of more than 700,000 one to 19-year olds being treated for HIV infection suggests a ten-fold increase in the number of adolescents aged 15 to 19 receiving HIV treatment in South Africa, according to results published in The Lancet HIV journal.

Starting HIV treatment in ERs may be key to ending HIV spread worldwide
In a follow-up study conducted in South Africa, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers say they have evidence that hospital emergency departments (EDs) worldwide may be key strategic settings for curbing the spread of HIV infections in hard-to-reach populations if the EDs jump-start treatment and case management as well as diagnosis of the disease.

NIH HIV experts prioritize research to achieve sustained ART-free HIV remission
Achieving sustained remission of HIV without life-long antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a top HIV research priority, according to a new commentary in JAMA by experts at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The Lancet HIV: PrEP implementation is associated with a rapid decline in new HIV infections
Study from Australia is the first to evaluate a population-level roll-out of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in men who have sex with men.

Researchers date 'hibernating' HIV strains, advancing BC's leadership in HIV cure research
Researchers have developed a novel way for dating 'hibernating' HIV strains, in an advancement for HIV cure research.

Read More: HIV News and HIV Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.