Understanding the Law

Knowing the law

These resources clarify existing laws in particular countries. They represent good examples of advocates’ work to discover and understand the law in their jurisdictions. Resources include charts (listing laws), maps and articles.

Criminal law and HIV non-disclosure: Understanding the criminal law in Canada

Explains the criminal law in Canada, including what the law is, basic principles of the law, and the hierarchy of the courts (in HIV Disclosure and the Law: A Resource Kit for Service Providers).

A human rights analysis of the N’Djamena model legislation on AIDS and HIV-specific legislation in Benin, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Detailed information and analyses of HIV-specific legislation in seven Central and West African countries from a human rights perspective. Provides commentary on N’Djamena model legislation on HIV/AIDS (2004).

HIV-specific legislation in sub-Saharan Africa: A comprehensive human rights analysis

Analyses key provisions in HIV-specific laws, outlining both protective and punitive provisions including criminalisation of HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission. Argues these provisions are generally overly broad, disregarding the best available recommendations for legislating on HIV; failing the human rights test of necessity, proportionality and reasonableness; consecrating myths and prejudice; and undermining HIV responses.

State-by-State Chart of HIV – Specific Statutes and Prosecutorial Tools

Details each state’s HIV-specific misdemeanor or felony statutes for various behaviours including spitting, sharing needles, sex, and ‘prostitution’.

Comparative Sentencing on HIV Criminalization in the United States,

Compares sentencing schemes for HIV exposure, non-disclosure, and/or transmission laws in the U.S. with laws punishing drinking and driving, reckless endangerment of others, and vehicular homicide. Despite minimal risk of HIV exposure, punishment can be much more severe than for other more dangerous crimes (pages 17-23, Ending and Defending Against HIV Criminalization: A Manual For Advocates. Vol 2: A Legal Toolkit Resources for Attorneys Handling HIV-Related Prosecutions).

Prevalence and public health implications of state laws that criminalize potential HIV exposure in the United States

Describes the prevalence and characteristics of laws criminalizing HIV exposure across the U.S., examining the implications of these laws for public health practice. Finds that nearly two-thirds of states have legislation criminalizing potential HIV exposure, including behaviours that pose low or negligible risk. States are encouraged to re-examine HIV-specific laws (referencing current science) and consider whether current laws are the best vehicle to achieve their intended purposes.