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Sigma Research

Keeping Confidence: HIV and the criminal law from service provider perspectives

Duration: June 2012 - March 2013

The Monument Trust generously funded Sigma Research at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Birkbeck College to undertake a qualitative study on perceptions of criminal prosecutions for HIV transmission among HIV service providers.

Five short reports outlining the key findings of the study focus on the main themes arising from our analysis of the focus group discussions. The findings and associated policy and practice recommendations will be of interest to: those who provide HIV health and social care and their professional bodies (for instance NHIVNA, CHIVA, BHIVA, BASHH, SSHA, BPS), police and others who play a role in criminal investigations and trials, and people with diagnosed HIV.

1. Executive summary
2. Understanding the law
3. Practice and procedure
4. Responsibility and public health
5. Identifying resources

Keeping Confidence fieldwork was undertaken in the latter half of 2012. It involved 7 focus groups with a total of 75 providers of HIV health and social care services in England and Wales. The groups discussed service providers’ thoughts on criminal prosecutions for the transmission of HIV, and whether they felt the criminal law had any influence over their daily practices and interactions with people with diagnosed HIV. All information was shared in confidence. Following each group, we discussed some factual and legal points about the development of case law in this area, and participants were offered a briefing sheet of further resources.

Below are VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS of the one day conference where the report was launched.
VIDEO 1 of 4: Introductory remarks and overview of project findings
VIDEO 2 of 4: Response panel comprising service providers and service users
VIDEO 3 of 4: Overview of updated BHIVA/BASHH document on HIV and the criminal law for clinical teams
VIDEO 4 of 4: Feedback from afternoon workshops

Resources: The following links offer information on criminal prosecutions for HIV transmission relevant within the UK context.
HIV Justice Network
aidsmap: transmission and the law
Resource sheet distributed to study participants
How the law works (THT)

Acknowledgements: This research was generously funded by The Monument Trust and was approved by the Ethics Committee of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

A large number of individuals worked to make this research study a success, and although we are not able to identify them by name, we would like to thank all those who assisted with the recruitment of participants and the hosting of events, including an array of: Personal Assistants and Secretaries in HIV clinics, HIV service managers and their teams in the community, Directors of HIV charities, Health Advisors, Clinical Nurse Specialists, and HIV consultants. All of these individuals committed themselves freely to ensuring that a focus group was able to happen in their place of work, and we appreciate their efforts greatly. Thanks also to Siri Egede, Kathie Jessup and Gary Hammond at Sigma Research for ensuring the smooth administration of this research project. Thanks to Gary Hammond for reading and commenting on earlier drafts of these reports, and organisation of the Keeping Confidence conference. Finally, this study would not have been possible without the time and honesty given to us by all of the participants. We are greatly indebted to them.

Key contact: Catherine Dodds