Track HIV Justice Issues

HIV Justice Weekly - 27 August 2021

Uganda to re-consider problematic HIV law provisions

After five years of waiting, the Constitutional Court of Uganda has finally begun to hear a landmark case challenging the overly broad and draconian provisions of the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 2014.
Constitutional Court Judge Christopher Izama Madrama has instructed the Attorney General of the Government of Uganda to submit a formal reply to the HIV Constitutional Petition No. 4 of 2016, after it came up for mention in the Court on August 12th, 2021.
The petition, by a coalition of HIV, human rights, and LGBTQ organisations, seeks for the removal of three problematic clauses in the HIV Prevention and Control Act which was passed on May 13, 2014, by the Ugandan Parliament.
The Act allows for stringent punishments for the vague ‘crimes’ of attempted and intentional HIV transmission. The other problematic provisions in the Act are mandatory HIV testing for pregnant women and their partners and allowing medical providers to disclose a patient’s HIV status to others without consent.
The Act’s problematic provisions have been known to have been used in a broad range of circumstances, including the arrest, conviction, and acquittal of a nurse wrongfully convicted of injecting a baby with HIV-infected blood and the charging of two different women for exposing an infant to HIV via breastfeeding.
This is one of three pieces of good news from Uganda this week.

Earlier this year, HJN joined other civil society and human rights organisations in condemning the passage of Uganda’s Sexual Offences Bill which would have negatively impacted sex workers, the LGBTI communities, and people living with HIV.

The Bill defined rape as ‘misrepresentation’, running the very real risk of being interpreted by the criminal legal system as HIV status non-disclosure. If the accused was found to be living with HIV, this would have resulted in the death penalty.
Last week it was reported that President Museveni declined to sign the Bill into law, saying many provisions are redundant and already provided for in other laws.

In addition, last week Uganda’s Constitutional Court scrapped a controversial anti-pornography law whose provisions included a ban on women wearing miniskirts in public saying it was “inconsistent with or in contravention of the constitution of the Republic of Uganda.”

HIV Justice in the NEWS 

Is it time to shift the focus of HIV care?
From Avert: HIV experts have released a ‘consensus statement’ outlining how healthcare for people with HIV would be more effective if it focused on long-term well-being rather than on viral suppression. The consensus statement highlights three themes: stigma and discrimination, having more than one health condition, and health-related quality of life.

To End HIV, We Must First Fight Fear and Stigma
From POZ: Recent comments made by the rapper DaBaby highlight how much more work still needs to be done.


People living with HIV are still facing criminalisation, stigma and discrimination
From Takikh Dela: Stigma, denial of health services, dismissal, deportation – these are just some of the problems HIV-positive people in Russia can face. For 25 years Positive Dialogue NGO has helped people with these issues.

Criminalizing HIV remains a sad reality in our communities
From UGANET: Robinah has three children, she is a single mother. For so long until sometime this year 2020, Robinah became the face of shame in Namutumba neighbourhood for being HIV positive. Her neighbours labelled her and her children “walking dead”.

CHLP's Jada Hicks Talks with Insider about R. Kelly case and Laws that Criminalize STIs
From CHLP: R. Kelly wants herpes-related charges dropped from his case. CHLP's Jada Hicks, Supervising Attorney for Criminal Justice Initiatives, spoke with about the R. Kelly case and laws that criminalize sexual behavior among STI-positive individuals.


Suspended sentence for Saransk resident accused of alleged HIV transmission.
35-year-old resident of Saransk received a 1 year 6 months suspended sentence with a probationary period of 2 years 6 months.
COVID-19 Justice in the NEWS

Punitive responses to health crises: the securitisation of COVID-19 in Asia
From Harm Reduction International: Punitive responses to COVID-19 by several governments in Asia, which relied excessively on law enforcement and the military, have resulted in serious human rights violations and have far been counter-productive in controlling the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 And HIV: Overlapping Pandemics For Criminal Justice-Involved Individuals (Free registration required)
From Health Affairs: Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, policy makers have looked to the lessons learned from the HIV pandemic. Both the COVID-19 and the HIV pandemics have demonstrated disparate effects due to structural inequities.


Carceral Institutions in the Era of COVID-19
From Harvard Political Review: The pandemic has presented a unique opportunity to accelerate long-awaited criminal justice reform, but across the United States, lawmakers have failed to protect people in prisons and jails from COVID-19. 
Other related NEWS and EVENTS

Drug use
New Zealand: Time to make NZ's temporary drug checking law permanent
From RNZ: With the summer music festival season approaching (Covid-19 willing), hopes are high that the current temporary recreational drug checking law will become permanent. If and when that happens, New Zealand will take another small step down the long drug reform road from criminalisation to harm prevention.

Cameroon: When homophobia hinders the fight against HIV (in French)
From jeuneafrique: Forty years after the first cases of HIV/AIDS were identified in Cameroon, the persecution of sexual minorities is preventing significant progress in the fight against this disease.

Uganda: Museveni rejects sexual offences and succession Bills
From Daily Monitor: President Museveni has rejected to assent to the Sexual Offences Bill, saying many provisions are redundant and already provided for in other legislations.

Sex Work
Australia: Victoria to decriminalise sex work
From Star Observer: Victoria announced that it will decriminalise sex work between consenting adults, marking a major overhaul of its outdated laws that were characterised as “no longer fit-for-purpose”. 

India: Sex workers, former inmates and people who use drugs help to feed the world during the pandemic
From The Mail & Guardian: As India suffered a devastating surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths, the vital role of community-led organisations became clearer than ever. 

US: Claims of protecting sex workers have long been used to punish them
From The Washington Post: New York lawmakers are engaged in a “bloody ideological battle” over prostitution policy. Two proposals are on the table, reflecting divergent understandings of commercialized sex.

Events & Webinars

Recorded Symposium - IAS 2021 Conference on HIV Science
HIV Is Not A Crime

The Symposium, convened by the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, and featuring HJN's Executive Director, Edwin J Bernard, HJN's Supervisory Board member, Sarai Chisala-Tempelhoff and HJN's Global Advisory Panel member, Robert Suttle, explored the impact of HIV criminalisation on the most affected communities globally and in the United States.

[Video Recording] HIV Molecular Epidemiology: What is it? What can it do?

Discussion regarding the most controversial advancement in attempts to end HIV. This is the final instalment of Thorne Harbour Health HIV Research & the Community forum series which delved into HIV Molecular Epidemiology: What is it? What can it do?

In addition to Professors Sharon Lewin and Deborah Williamson of the Doherty Institute and Thorne Harbour's CEO, Simon Ruth, the webinar featured HJN's Executive Director, Edwin J Bernard.

To see the recorded video of the webinar, please go to:

9th Symposium on HIV, Law, and Human Rights - Report/Summary

On June 17, 2021, the HIV Legal Network held its 9th Symposium on HIV, Law, and Human Rights. This biannual symposium serves as one of Canada’s seminal events regarding HIV and human rights.

Focusing on drug policy in Canada, this year’s symposium, Hitting the Mark: Ending the HIV pandemic by realizing rights for people who use drugs, provided a virtual forum for diverse stakeholders to share their real-world experience and for experts in the field to present updates on the current status of decriminalisation, supervised consumption services, and safe supply in Canada.

The summary of the events from the symposium is available in English and French.You can also watch the video playlist of the symposium here.


2021 State of HIV Stigma Report

The 2021 GLAAD State of HIV Stigma Study is a national survey in partnership with the Gilead COMPASS Initiative measuring American attitudes toward HIV and people living with HIV.
The study was conducted through an online survey in January 2021, among a sample of 2517 U.S. adults, 18 years or over.

This report systematically reviews the history of HIV stigma in the media to document the current state of research and offer recommendations for media to increase and improve coverage of HIV and people living with HIV. It also offers strategies from leaders in HIV education and treatment for defeating stigma in all areas of society. 

The report also includes a media case study on HIV Criminalization, Misinformation, and Race, focusing on the Michael L. Johnson, a young Black man, who was arrested for allegedly failing to report to a white male sexual partner that he was living with HIV before engaging in condomless sex. 

For more information on the study click here.

To download the full publication in pdf format, click here.

LGBTI+ Health Equity: A Global Report of 50 Fast-Track Cities

The International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC) conducted a study in 2021 that included assessments of 50 cities and municipalities from four geographic regions, as well as 275 key informant interviews with people involved in LGBTI+ health issues at the community level who completed an online survey.

This report reflects outcomes across multiple public health and social determinant of health indicators that affect the lives of LGBTI+ people across the Fast-Track Cities network.

Click here to download the report.

Click here to access a one-page summary of the report.

Sero Project is hiring 
Sexual Justice Coordinator and Communications Director

Click here for more information

Scaling Up Telehealth to Promote Equitable Access to Essential Health Services

UNDP invites you to participate in a public Sparkblue e-discussion on “Scaling up telehealth to promote equitable access to essential health services” which aims to improve the understanding of relevant policy, institutional and programmatic challenges related to telehealth, and explore solutions and opportunities to promote the use of telehealth as an innovative approach to improve access to health services.

To inform the discussion, a draft background paper “The Role of telehealth in strengthening health systems” provides an overview of how telehealth promotes equitable access to essential health services.

When: 23 August – 17 September
Where: (a multi-lingual function is available, providing for seamless engagement in different languages).

A list of global and national resources, tracking laws and policies implemented in response to the pandemic as well as data analyses.

HIV Justice Network · Eerste Helmersstraat 17 B3, · Amsterdam · Netherlands, 1054 CX · Netherlands


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