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Criminal prosecutions for HIV transmission: people living with HIV respond

International Journal of STD & AIDS, 2006, 17(5):315-318 (doi:10.1258/095646206776790114).

Authors: Catherine Dodds, Peter Keogh

Abstract

This paper presents an analysis of responses to the first criminal convictions for HIV transmission in England and Wales within a sample of people living with HIV. These findings represent an important contribution to the development of well-informed prosecution policy. The responses were collected during 20 focused group discussions with a community and web-recruited sample of heterosexual African men and women, and gay and bisexual men (n=125) living with diagnosed HIV in London, Manchester and Brighton. The vast majority (90%) of comments made were critical of the implementation and impact of criminalization. In particular, respondents expressed concern about the way in which criminal convictions conflict with messages about shared responsibility for 'safer sex', and the extent to which such cases will exacerbate existing stigma and discrimination related to HIV. Most felt that the successes achieved by human rights approaches to HIV prevention, treatment, and care were placed under threat by the growing culture of blame encouraged by criminal prosecutions.

Keywords

HIV, criminal law, stigma, social responsibility

© 2006 Royal Society of Medicine Press

Available online