In October 2020, Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists’ Executive Board unanimously approved an interim position statement presenting their recommendations for Modernisation of Laws to Prevent HIV Criminalisation. CSTE strongly opposes any criminalization of HIV exposure or transmission and recommends that all states, U.S. territories, and local jurisdictions eliminate HIV-specific statutes that criminalise HIV, eliminate prosecution of HIV under general statutes and change relevant state and local statutes to specifically prohibit the use of HIV-related, public health data for uses outside of public health purposes.
This assessment ‘Legal Assessment of the Effectiveness of HIV Criminalisation Laws-from High to Low-Income Countries’ demonstrates why the enactment of an HIV-specific criminal law in Jamaica would be harmful to the national HIV response. It sets out the bases on which the recommendation for an HIV-specific criminal law should be rejected and highlights the need for public health policy considerations to centre the discussions surrounding HIV criminalisation in Jamaica.
Presents an assessment of the legal, ethical, societal and health issues raised by criminal proceedings brought in France for acts of transmission or exposure to the risk of sexual transmission of HIV.
Acknowledges the harms caused by stigma and criminalisation. In particular, it acknowledges that the harms of criminalisation are borne disproportionally by Indigenous peoples in Canada. The Statement recognises that while people make their own health decisions, these decisions are only one factor influencing health outcomes.
Calls for the elimination of HIV-specific criminal laws and implementation of approaches to HIV consistent with the treatment of similar health and safety risks. Endorses the recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS for ending federal and state HIV-specific criminal laws, prosecutions, and civil commitments.
Calls for federal action to address criminalisation including review of laws and cases.
Opposes laws that base criminal liability and/or penalty on HIV status, rather than intent to harm. Argues that focus on knowledge of status as a key element of an HIV-related crime rather than intent and capacity to transmit the virus, is a classic example of an inadequate mens rea (or criminal intent) requirement and overly expansive criminalization.
Highlights the detrimental effects of criminalization statutes and offers a statement of support for evidence-based prevention measures and interventions to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.
Notes disease-specific laws and policies resulting in prosecutions fuel stigma and discrimination. Encourages local health departments to assist state governments to review HIV-specific criminal statutes to ensure that they are consistent with current knowledge of HIV transmission and support public health approaches to prevention and treatment.
Resolution by the American Medical Association (AMA) including condemnation of HIV-based discrimination, calls for laws to be consistent with current scientific knowledge, and encouragement of public education about stigma created by HIV criminalization status and their negative consequences. (Background information provided by the Centre for HIV Law and Policy)