You are here

End HIV criminalisation

A group of leading HIV experts are calling for “caution to be exercised” when considering criminal charges against people who recklessly spread the disease.

In a consensus statement published in the Medical Journal of Australia, Australian researchers and scientists — including Professor Sharon Lewin and Professor Andrew Grulich — argue that “criminal cases involving HIV transmission or exposure require that courts correctly comprehend the rapidly evolving science of HIV transmission and the impact of an HIV diagnosis”.

The statement cites scientific evidence that shows the risk of HIV transmission to be negligible if a person is on treatment and has an undetectable viral load. It also claims that HIV isn’t as serious a condition as it used to be: “Most people with HIV are able to commence simple treatment providing them a normal and healthy life expectancy, largely comparable with their HIV-negative peers.”

“Given the limited risk of HIV transmission per sexual act and the limited long-term harms experienced by most people recently diagnosed with HIV, appropriate care should be taken before prosecutions are pursued,” says the statement.

While acknowledging that cases of deliberate transmission of HIV are “extremely unusual”, the group urge authorities to change behaviours through counselling rather than the courts. “Careful attention should be paid to the best scientific evidence on HIV risk and harms, with consideration given to alternatives to prosecution, including public health management.”

latest news

November 7, 2017
It’s that time of year when all eyes turn to the annual report detailing Australia’s sexual health.
August 22, 2017
A decision to subsidise PrEP has been deferred, much to the disappointment and frustration of HIV advocates.
July 26, 2017
Results from an Australian study show that HIV-positive men on treatment cannot transmit the virus.
June 22, 2017
Why is an easily curable disease once believed to be on the wane in Australia out of control?
June 6, 2017
Real-life exchanges between people on Grindr are at the centre of a new campaign spotlighting HIV stigma.
June 5, 2017
This year marks the 30th anniversary of ACT UP and many of today’s survivors were yesterday’s activists.
June 5, 2017
Here, a group of long-term survivors shed light on on the dark days of the AIDS epidemic. 
June 5, 2017
Using gene-editing technology, scientists successfully eliminate HIV in live animals. 
June 5, 2017
A grassroots organisation is calling for Australia's blood donation rules to be relaxed.
June 5, 2017
HIV enters the brain within the early stages of infection — just a matter of a few weeks. 
June 5, 2017
David Menadue rifles through the PL archives to look back at the watershed year of 1996.
June 5, 2017
Long-term survivors of HIV find themselves on a new and unexpected battlefront: ageing with HIV. 
May 1, 2017
Flu season is here, and people — especially those with impaired immunity — are advised to get vaccinated.
April 19, 2017
Researchers are collating stories of family life in the context of HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
March 29, 2017
Tez Anderson warns of a multi-pronged crisis affecting the health and wellbeing of older adults with HIV.