In much of the world, marginalized and criminalized communities especially persons who inject drugs, sex workers and their clients, transgender persons and men who have sex with men, are among the groups most at risk of exposure to HIV and other infections substantial resultant morbidity and mortality. Efforts to prevent disease in these populations are often hampered by policing policies and practices, a key shaper of the risk environment. This has been extensively documented; less widely examined are the ways in which policing policies and practices can help decrease risk, of which a growing number of examples exist. The need for better understanding of how the police role in risk environments can be changed through engagement and partnership, rather than conflict and tension, led to this Consultation, which began identifying and defining principles underlying effective policing for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support among most-at-risk populations and marginalized communities.
A group of people with widely differing experience in many parts of the world but a common interest in engaging with police came together for wide ranging discussion. The current situation, the ideal situation, and how to make progress from one to the other were all discussed. Participants came from policing, academic, NGO, multilateral and activist backgrounds and institutions from ten countries, as well as UNAIDS and UNODC were represented. This Report provides an edited and supplemented account of the discussions that took place, preceding, during and following the two days.
The Working Group discussed a wide range of issues related to policing for public health in these key populations, beginning from the way police behave at present to members of these groups and why this might be so, through to the characteristics of an ideal policing approach to public health and ways in which this agenda might be advanced.
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