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Friday, 26 June 2009

UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon: criminalising HIV transmission "reinforces stigma"

United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon has spoken out for the first time against the criminalisation of HIV transmission.

Speaking at the HIV/AIDS review during the 63rd United Nations General Assembly, held in New York on June 16th, Mr. Ban spoke out about laws and policies that criminalised people with, and at risk of, HIV. He ended his speech by stating:

In recent years, a growing number of countries have taken steps to criminalize HIV transmission.

In theory, this has been done to prevent the spread of infection. In practice, it has done the opposite – reducing the effectiveness of HIV prevention efforts by reinforcing the stigma.

Such measures send the message that people living with HIV are a danger to society. We must instead encourage tolerance, compassion and inclusion.

Today, the Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+) joined Mr Ban's call to end HIV-related stigma and discrimination and highlighted similar calls from UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, who said, in his address to the Meeting of the Programme Coordinating Board, held in Geneva on June 23th that

punitive laws that discriminate against men who have sex with men, sex workers, injecting drug users, migrants and people living with HIV must be removed from the statute books, country by country.
I must say that I'm honoured and proud to be working with both organisations as a consultant to aid in their work towards these goals.

2 comments:

Regina said...

I wish you would post some of the findings from the studies into the effects of criminalization of spreading HIV. I keep reading that criminalization causes more stigma and discourages people from getting tested but I have yet to see a scientific study to confirm this. Instead I see that in many instances when these cases are reported by the media, testing increases in those areas.

Just Bentley said...

Wow! Now let's just hope someone is listening.
I say that we ought to start the dismantling in Canada, because we were one of the first countries to criminalize transmission, and I think we're leading the pack in upping the ante (Nobody is else is convicting folks of murder, are they? And I think First Degree Murder trumps New Zealand's 'willful infection').
The thing is, Canada likes very much to be on the side of Right. We don't like beating little seals to death, or feeding their still beating hearts to our acting sovereign, but for the sake of our indigenous peoples and those poor folks out east, we do it. We've apologised and compensated for Residential schools and Japanese internment. Eventually, we'll get around to compensating the people of Africville. Hell, if there'd been more slaves up here, we'd have all had our forty acres and a mule by now.
That's Canada. We try to do the right thing, and so in the Cuerrier decision, we weren't talking about transmission or infection so much as consent.
Theirs was the wrong decision because it negates the fact that sexual activity, by its very nature, carries risks. There are pregnancies STIs, allergies, parasites, infidelity, indiscretion, and just plain asshole bullshit! It happens. And when you agree to have sex, whether or not you're fully cognizant of all the ramifications, you agree to the burden of those risks. Sometimes the risk is part of the thrill.
Our Supreme Court justices tend to be much advanced in years. They're often a little stodgy and conservative. I doubt very many of them have been recently laid by anyone they've not known for years. They've forgotten about the risks. For them, sex has become as routine as it has rare.
We need to remind them that risk must, at least on occasion, be assumed. I mean, we're laying Attempt Murder charges for casual internet sex, and publishing the name and photo of a man who was only recently diagnosed! Somebody around here needs a reality check because their last one seems to have bounced!
The situation here is bad, and with police and prosecutors running around with convictions like those of Ryan Handy and Johnson Aziga in their pockets, it's just going to get worse.
Or maybe we could just get folks to sign a waiver.

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