HIV Criminalization And How It Came About

Our researcher compiled over short articles on HIV criminalization. In this series, we bring you two points: our own argument that HIV voluntary transmission criminalization should the name of the act instead of HIV criminalization. We also bring a glimpse into how criminalization came about.

HIV criminalization should instead be called HIV voluntary transmission criminalization on the law books. HIV criminalization has structural dimensions, making it assume far reaching repercussions linked to social, political and economical deprivations for people with an HIV positive diagnosis who are booked for cases of voluntary transmission. We draws examples from US, Russia, China and RSA. HIV criminalization affects the marginalized and compounds further ostracism. In USA, the criminal justice varies according to state and can make statements where a +ve HIV diagnosis is ranked the same as a biological warfare calling on really long sentences. 

In Russia, those facing debilitating effects of drug-addiction were impacted most. In China, a positive HIV diagnosis in sexually active persons leads to further stigma and discrimination and for working class members this leads to automatic expulsion from work. In RSA, women are the most affected persons right from homes and in their dealings with power structures which favor males. HIV criminalization in USA was a reaction to federal government policy of the 1980’s to use legislation to control HIV transmission. Later states were compelled to have criminalization laws if they were to benefit from federal grants. 

Countries receiving American grants were also compelled to have criminalization laws on the books. These laws have tended to be extremely punitive for people with a +ve HIV diagnosis who are also guilty of HIV transmission.  On the other hand a humane or public health model rectifies this care disparity missing from the process and this is why it should be integrated.


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