By the HIV Justice Network
Across the world people living with HIV, activists, lawyers, health care providers and other allies are trying to bring an end to HIV criminalisation. HIV criminalisation is about using criminal or similar laws to punish or control people living with HIV based on their HIV-positive status. HIV criminalisation usually focuses on the sexual lives of people living with HIV. It places them at risk of arrest when they: (1) don’t disclose their HIV-positive status to a sex partner (or can’t prove they have disclosed); (2) potentially expose their sex partners to what the law considers to be a risk of transmission; or (3) allegedly transmit HIV.
The work activists are doing to end HIV criminalisation is wide-ranging. We are supporting people who are facing HIV-related criminal charges or who have been convicted of HIV-related criminal offences. We are running campaigns to reform or repeal HIV criminalisation laws. We’re reaching out to legislators, government officials and policy makers, and we’re fighting stigmatizing news coverage. Some of us are organising demonstrations, educating our communities and sharing skills and information with scientists, HIV communities, and human rights allies. Others are working hard to end police brutality, gender-based violence and racialized, sexual, and class-based oppression. We are also conducting our own communitybased research and using research published by others to learn about the effects of HIV criminalisation and to support our efforts to change or end the unjust use of laws against people living with HIV.
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 use the results of existing research in the fight against HIV criminalisation.