Some countries have used the criminal law to prosecute people living with HIV who have – or are believed to have – put others at risk of acquiring HIV. Some countries’ laws criminalise people who do not disclose their HIV status to sexual partners as well as actual cases of HIV transmission.   

HIV and criminal law: latest news

HIV and criminal law resources

  • Sexual partners

    The decision to tell (or not to tell) a sexual partner can be particularly complex. Many people living with HIV have faced rejection from sexual partners, so...

    From: Booklets

    Information level Level 2
  • Transmission and the law

    Some people have gone to prison because they have passed HIV on to another person. They were convicted of 'recklessly transmitting HIV'.In England and Wales,...

    From: The basics

    Information level Level 1
  • HIV, sex and the law

    If you know you are HIV positive, and you have sex without a condom without telling your sexual partner about your HIV status, and your partner...

    From: Booklets

    Information level Level 2
  • Disclosure

    Telling people you have HIV (disclosing) can be frightening. It is important to take time to think about the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. Many people tell...

    From: Booklets

    Information level Level 2
  • Sex

    Having HIV can affect people’s feelings about sex in many different ways. Some people become anxious about passing HIV on, or feel less desirable. While some people go...

    From: Booklets

    Information level Level 2
  • Transmission of HIV as a criminal offence

    Information about policing and prosecutions of HIV transmission....

    From: Social & legal issues for people with HIV

    Information level Level 4
  • HIV & the criminal law

    An international resource exploring the full range of issues relating to the criminalisation of HIV exposure and transmission, with information on current laws and practice....

    From: Aidsmap 2.0

    Information level Level 4

HIV and criminal law features

HIV and criminal law in your own words

HIV and criminal law news from aidsmap

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HIV and criminal law news selected from other sources

  • Daryll Rowe infected others with HIV due to ‘denial’ about diagnosis

    Daryll Rowe, who was convicted of deliberately infecting five men with HIV, has said in a new BBC documentary that he was in “denial” about his diagnosis, which he used as a “weapon to get a reaction.”

    18 March 2019 | Pink News
  • 'I felt my life was over': Lenny Royal on the horror of being deliberately infected with HIV

    One of five men infected by hairdresser Daryll Rowe, Royal’s own diagnosis came after both his parents died of Aids. He explains why he waived his anonymity to talk about the case.

    13 March 2019 | The Guardian
  • BBC Releases Documentary On First Man Convicted Of Using HIV As Weapon

    BBC Three is releasing a documentary about Daryll Rowe, the first person in England to ever be convicted of deliberately spreading HIV. The Man Who Used HIV As A Weapon will tell the intimate stories of five men who were abused by the hairdresser as they question why he chose to commit such a heinous crime with so many men.

    07 March 2019 | Pretty 52
  • Canada: Groups want provinces to have consistent policies on limiting HIV prosecutions

    Advocacy groups are calling on provinces to follow the Justice Department’s directive to stop unjustly prosecuting HIV-positive people for not disclosing their status if there is no chance they could transmit the virus to their sexual partners.

    05 February 2019 | Vancouver Sun
  • Michigan State updates HIV disclosure laws to reflect impact of effective ART

    On 8 January 2019 the outdated HIV disclosure law in the US State of Michigan has been modernised.

    23 January 2019 | HIV i-Base
  • Brixham repeat HIV sex offender faces 'significant' jail term

    A man living with HIV is facing a "significant jail term" for having sex with a woman without telling her he has the virus. Under the terms of a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO), James Defalco, 57, has to tell anyone he is in a relationship with about his condition.

    21 January 2019 | BBC News
  • Gay Men: It's Time to Stop Calling the Police on One Another for HIV Non-Disclosure

    No gay or bisexual men, as maligned as we all are still in the world, should ever think the best solution to deal with HIV -- whether you contract the virus or not -- is to use the police and the specter of a prison sentence.

    12 December 2018 | The Body
  • Attorney General of Canada to issue Directive Regarding Prosecutions of HIV Non-Disclosure Cases

    The Directive to be issued by the Attorney General of Canada will reflect the most recent scientific evidence related to the risks of sexual transmission of HIV, as reviewed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as the applicable criminal law as clarified by the Supreme Court of Canada. The Directive will state that, in HIV non-disclosure cases, the Director shall not prosecute where the person living with HIV has maintained a suppressed viral load (i.e. under 200 copies of the virus per millilitre of blood) because there is no realistic possibility of transmission.

    03 December 2018 | Government of Canada
  • Canada: Justice Department issues new guidelines on prosecution for non-disclosure of HIV status

    Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network has welcomed new moves issued by the federal government to limit what it calls unjust prosecutions of people with HIV.

    03 December 2018 | CBC
  • Let’s stop criminalizing HIV status

    Black people represent approximately 2.5 per cent of Canada’s population and 13.6 per cent of people living with HIV. Data shows that among non-disclosure cases, where the race of the defendant is known, only 36 per cent are Black, while 50 per cent are white. Yet this study of media representation found that since 1989, 62 per cent of all newspaper articles about HIV non-disclosure cases have focused on Black defendants. Moreover, since 2012 the majority of high profile cases of persons convicted under HIV criminalization legislation in Canada were African/Black men.

    30 November 2018 | The Conversation
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See also

Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.