Organising Advocacy

Increasing awareness and strategizing for future advocacy

Agencies around the world are using different techniques to undertake advocacy to reduce HIV criminalisation. These resources include manuals on how anti-criminalisation can be undertaken, tools to use when developing advocacy plans, and records of advocacy events – showing advocacy development in action.

Using Research In The Fight Against HIV Criminalisation – A Guide for Activists

The purpose of this guide is to help advocates who want to use research in their activism. It is not a guide about how to conduct original research. Instead, it focuses on how to find, read and interpret research on HIV criminalisation, giving examples of how advocates have successfully used research to challenge HIV criminalisation.


How to change the law

Ground-breaking research from the Human Dignity Trust offering a step-by-step analysis of how the reform of discriminatory sexual offence laws has been achieved and identifying how it can be replicated. Countains a series of reports investigating in detail how countries in four regions of the world have recently reformed outdated and discriminatory sexual offences laws.

HPV Talking Points – Keep out of the criminal law

HPV Talking points published by the HIV Modernization Movement-Indiana to support advocacy against bill attempting to add HPV to outdated HIV or STD criminal laws (other than the specific epi/medical/testing facts unique to HPV, many of these talking points would apply to attempts to add any additional communicable diseases to these criminal laws).

Evaluation of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law

Findings from an external evaluation of the impacts and legacy of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law. It explores the fulfilment of the Commission’s objectives, taking into account the perspectives and experiences of representatives from government, including law and policy makers, civil society including those most marginalised and affected by HIV, as well as United Nations agencies and other development partners.

Beyond Blame: Challenging HIV Criminalisation

In this special report published in ‘Mujeres Adelante @ AIDS 2014’, Felicita Hikuam of ARASA describes the highlights of this International AIDS Conference pre-conference (held on Sunday, 20 July 2014 in Melbourne, Australia) which focused on working to end the overly broad criminalisation of HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission.

HIV, the Law and Human Rights in the African Human Rights System: Key Challenges and Opportunities for Rights-Based Responses

Report on the Study of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The report presents the current state of the HIV epidemic in Africa through a human rights and gender lens by showing the populations and locations most affected by HIV and those underserved by the response to the epidemic. It also describes the global, regional and national norms and standards relating to HIV and health, as well as their interpretation and application by African regional mechanisms, United Nations (UN) bodies and national courts and institutions. It further provides a detailed analysis of the key human rights challenges affecting the response to HIV on the continent.

PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR PARALEGALS: Supporting People Living with HIV Affected by HIV Criminalization in the EECA Region

The purpose of this guide is to raise the legal awareness of activists from the community of people living with HIV who provide paralegal assistance to people affected by the criminalisation of HIV. This guide is also recommended for use by activists from key populations – people who use drugs, sex workers, and representatives of the LGBT community. This manual reflects the experience of the HIV-positive community members, as well as their partners and associates from across Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA), in providing direct assistance to HIV-positive people affected by discriminatory HIV-specific laws and the decriminalisation of HIV.

Overview of the webinar series on overcoming HIV-related stigma and discrimination, HIV transmission decriminalisation as well as six areas of the Global Partnership in the EECA region

The CO “100 PERCENT LIFE” and the Global Network of People living with HIV held a series of thematic webinars that brought together activists with expertise in the decriminalization of HIV transmission and representing countries from the EECA region. The first two webinars in the series aimed to provide an overview of the objectives and tools within the Global Partnership (webinar 1) and outline key human rights challenges and led to a subsequent detailed discussion of seven key programs and six areas in the work to address stigma, discrimination, and criminalization (webinar 2). The speeches of all speakers and links to their presentations are available for download in Annex 1 of this document.

Beyond Blame: Challenging HIV Criminalisation at AIDS 2016

On 17 July 2016, approximately 150 advocates, activists, researchers, and community leaders met in Durban, South Africa, for Beyond Blame: Challenging HIV Criminalisation – a full-day pre-conference meeting preceding the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) to discuss progress on the global effort to combat the unjust use of the criminal law against people living with HIV. Attendees at the convening hailed from at least 36 countries on six continents (Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, and South America). This report presents an overview of key highlights and takeaways from the convening grouped by the following recurring themes: Key Strategies Advocacy Tools Partnerships and Collaborations Adopting an Intersectional Approach Avoiding Pitfalls and Unintended Consequences.

Advancing HIV Justice: Achievements and Challenges in Global Advocacy Against HIV Criminalisation – African Update (ICASA 2013)

Although North America is the continent with the most known prosecutions, 26 African countries have overly broad and/or vague HIV-specific criminal laws and another 3 are considering enacting similar laws. This analysis reviewed global efforts in five broad areas: building the global evidence base; generating persuasive social science; challenging new laws; advocating for law reform; and addressing legal processes and enforcement.

OptTEST case study 4: Removing sex work regulations in Greece.

In April 2012, the Greek police carried out a massive operation in downtown Athens, arresting drug users and sex workers, forcing them to undergo HIV testing and charging them with prostitution. This case study explores the response from human rights and HIV groups both in Greece and internationally and the following campaign  to repeal the provision.

Building persuasive evidence How can the social sciences support global anti-criminalisation advocacy?

Working paper prepared for ‘HIV Prevention and the Criminal Law’ workshop, Toronto April 26-28, 2013. In order to better understand how advocates have used evidence to persuade policymakers and/or criminal justice system actors to repeal, reform and/or create improved outcomes for public health and/or human rights, leading advocates in four jurisdictions where such positive changes are taking place and/or have already occurred (Victoria, Australia; Denmark; England & Wales; and Iowa, United States) were asked to take part in a survey.

Making Change Happen: Advocacy and Citizen Participation

The Making Change Happen workshop brought together innovative activists and thinkers to reclaim advocacy and citizen participation as deep and ongoing processes of organizing, consciousness raising, political empowerment and social transformation to benefit the poor and marginalized. This report is structured around the key themes addressed during the meeting:

  • Engagement in advocacy – When is a policy space strategic and when is it just window dressing?
  • Issue-based struggle or struggle-based issue  – Linking social transformation and policy advocacy
  • Who’s who in advocacy – Identity, representation and legitimacy
  • How to assess success – Evaluation for learning

Implementing and scaling up programmes to remove human rights related barriers to HIV services

This publication builds on existing global technical guidance in human rights responses, and further advances efforts to support implementers to design and deliver high quality human rights programmes that are well integrated, sustainable, and at scale. The guidance is practical and organised around the Investment Approach to HIV. It helps implementers to understand the programmatic components of evidence-informed and quality interventions to remove barriers to services.

Issue Brief #1: Enabling Legal Environments, Including Decriminalization for HIV Responses

This issue brief shares lessons and reflections on enabling legal environments, including decriminalisation, to inform the implementation of key commitments in the 2021 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS and the Global AIDS Strategy. These include a shared understanding of the harms caused by the overly broad and unjust application of criminal laws; sensitization of key stakeholders and their engagement in legal review processes; A well-informed judiciary; Coordinated, multi-pronged and multisectoral legal advocacy; and, global and regional advocacy to advance national-level changes to HIV-related punitive and discriminatory laws, including decriminalization.

OptTest case study 5: Changing drugs laws in Portugal to prioritise public health

Presents the challenges followed by Portugal to address the increase in drug consumption throughout the 1980s and 90s. Explains the decriminalization and harm reduction strategy, along with lessons learnt.

Advancing HIV Justice: A progress report of achievements and challenges in global advocacy against HIV criminalisation

Provides a progress report of achievements and challenges in global advocacy against HIV criminalisation during the 18 month period, September 2011 to March 2013.

International Consultation on the Criminalization of HIV Transmission: Summary of main issues and conclusions

Records discussions of legal experts and other stakeholders at a UNAIDS/UNDP meeting convened in the context of renewed calls for the use of criminal law to HIV sexual transmission. Discussions aimed to inform a UNAIDS/UNDP policy brief.

Technical consultation in collaboration with the European AIDS Treatment Group and AIDS Action Europe on the criminalization of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, Copenhagen, 16 October 2006

Describes the work of the 2006 WHO technical consultation on the criminalization of HIV exposure and transmission, involving participants from all over Europe. Concludes that criminalization of HIV/STI transmission or exposure should be a last resort and only undertaken in a manner consistent with human rights conventions and laws. Argues that criminalization represents a failure of prevention efforts, with greater efforts required to overcome stigma and discrimination that undermine prevention.

Unsafe law: health, rights and the legal response to HIV

Suggests that, while important, rights-based arguments are an insufficient basis for advocacy, with legal scholarship and research having an important role to play. Argues that policy-makers, legislators and those responsible for interpretation and enforcement of law must base their HIV response not on populist morality but on the strong evidence base provided by three decades of clinical, scientific and social research.

Report on the ARASA/OSISA civil society consultative meeting on the criminalization of the wilful transmission of HIV

Outlines discussions at a community consultative meeting on HIV criminalisation attended by members of civil society from a range of countries within the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The meeting considered different perspectives on criminalisation, aiming to reach consensus on what constitutes an appropriate and effective response to harmful HIV-related behaviour.

HIV, Crime and the Law in Australia: Options for Policy Reform – a law reform advocacy kit

Divided into two sections, section two is an advocacy kit (pages 14-19). Includes possible actions to enable the development of better laws and policies, and improved practices on the part of the agencies enforcing existing laws.

Results from the Roundtable on Criminalization of HIV and women in BC Priority Setting Day

Outlines the impact of the criminalization of HIV on women, and sets research and advocacy priorities to inform policy and practice.

The Public Health Implications of Criminalizing HIV Non-Disclosure, Exposure and Transmission: Report of an International Workshop

Explores key themes from the first international meeting focused on strengthening new empirical research on criminalization. Offers suggestions for future research on the public health implications of criminalizing HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission.

Criminalization of HIV Non-Disclosure in Canada Video Series

Series of 23 short videos on different aspects of criminalization of HIV non-disclosure in Canada. Topics include: What is criminalization of HIV disclosure?, What should I do if I’m charged?, Why don’t people with HIV always disclose?, and How does Canada’s strict legal stance affect those living with HIV?.

Why Are We Putting People In Jail For Having HIV? First: HIV Criminalization A Grassroots Guide To HIV Criminalization: Facts, Foolishness And Solutions

This guide developed by The Center for HIV Law and Policy and National Center for Lesbian Rights in 2015 outlines the basics of HIV criminalization, medical facts, how criminalization exacerbates stigma, issues with HIV laws, and how people can advocate for change. Includes useful links.