What the Experts Say

International Organisations

For more than a decade, UN and other international agencies have recognised HIV criminalisation as a global concern, calling for review of legal frameworks and the use of laws to target HIV.

Expert meeting on the scientific, medical, legal and human rights aspects of criminalisation of HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission

This report contains the views, opinions and suggestions for policy orientation and formulation of the participants at an expert meeting (convened on 31 August–2 September 2011 in Geneva, Switzerland) that brought together scientists, medical practitioners and legal experts in order (i) to consider the latest scientific and medical facts about HIV that should be taken into account in the context of criminalisation, and (ii) to explore how to best address issues of harm, risk, intent and proof—including alternative responses to criminalisation—in light of this science and medicine.

Fast Track and Human Rights – Advancing human rights in efforts to accelerate the response to HIV

Spells out for the first time (on p23) that there must be “Non-criminalization of mother-to-child transmission” when a country applies for validation for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. This  marks the first time in public health history that human rights guarantees are considered a prerequisite to validating disease elimination.

Women and HIV criminalization

This policy brief represents the view, as women living with HIV, of the current state of criminalization of HIV among women in Canada and the United States after reviewing academic and grey literature, statutes and policies and an unpublished survey of membership. ICW-NA members highlighted their concern about stigma and discrimination in the justice system related to HIV non-disclosure.

Risks, Rights & Health – Supplement

This Supplement highlights developments since 2012 in science, technology, law, geopolitics, and funding that affect people living with or at risk from HIV and its coinfections. The recommendations add to and amplify those of the Commission’s 2012 report Risks, Rights & Health, which remain as relevant as they were six years ago.

Alternative links

Expert consensus statement on the science of HIV in the context of criminal law

Twenty scientists from regions across the world developed this Expert Consensus Statement to address the use of HIV science by the criminal justice system. Description of the possibility of HIV transmission was limited to acts most often at issue in criminal cases. The authors recommend that caution be exercised when considering prosecution, and encourage governments and those working in legal and judicial systems to pay close attention to the significant advances in HIV science that have occurred over the last three decades to ensure current scientific knowledge informs application of the law in cases related to HIV.

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Expertní prohlášení k vědeckým poznatkům o HIV v kontextu trestního práva ,

HIV Criminalization – Human Rights Fact sheet Series

Series of fact sheets on human rights highlighting the critical need to scale up action on rights. Short, easy to digest and accessible document outlining the latest epidemiology, the evidence of the impact of human rights interventions, the latest targets, and international guidelines, recommendations and human rights obligations.

Other factsheets in the same series released in June 2021 include: HIV and people who use drugsHIV and gay men and who have sex with other menHIV and transgender and other gender-diverse peopleHIV and sex workHIV and people in prisons and other closed settings and HIV and stigma and discrimination.

Ending overly broad criminalisation of HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission: Critical scientific, medical and legal considerations

Restates UNAIDS’ position on criminalisation and makes specific recommendations to help governments, policy-makers, law enforcement officials, and civil society limit the overly broad application of criminal law to HIV.

Alternative links
Spanish / Español

Criminalization of HIV transmission Policy Brief

Urges governments to limit criminalisation of HIV to cases of intentional transmission. Argues that criminal law should not be applied in a range of circumstances, including where there is no significant risk of transmission.

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General Comment No. 22 (2016) on the Right to sexual and reproductive health (article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights).

Includes comment (at page 40) that States must reform laws that impede the exercise of the right to sexual and reproductive health. Examples include laws criminalizing non-disclosure of HIV status, and exposure to and transmission of HIV.


Alternative links
Spanish / Español, Russian / Русский

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

Commentary includes clear statements outlining many ways that criminalisation undermines effective HIV response.

Oslo Declaration on HIV Criminalisation

Outlines the importance of a cohesive, evidence-informed approach to use of criminal law relating to HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission. Urges Ministries of Health and Justice, public health officials, policymakers and criminal justice system actors to ensure a proportionate response to HIV transmission risk.


Alternative links
Chinese / 中文, French / Français, German / Deutsche, Italian / Italiano, Portuguese / Português, Russian / Русский, Spanish / Español

International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) Position Statement on Criminalization of Women Living with HIV

Argues that criminalisation of women living with HIV for non-disclosure, exposure or transmission undermines public health strategies and increases risk of violence against women. Includes recommendations.