• South Africa: First-ever successful prosecution for 'HIV exposure' upheld as attempted murder by Pretoria High Court 14 Aug 2013
  • RT @ProfWetpaint: Hep C phylogenentics in court (prosecution of anesthetist in Spain): 23 Jul 2013
  • US: House Appropriations C'ttee passes amendment that would fund review of HIV-specific criminal laws #HIVisnotacrime 19 Jul 2013
  • UK: NAT (National AIDS Trust) produces new guide for police on occupational exposure to HIV 19 Jul 2013
  • UK: NAT (National AIDS Trust) produces new guide for police on occupational exposure to HIV 19 Jul 2013
  • Canada:Expert witness likens risk of male performing oral sex on female with HIV to “getting hit by a falling piano” 19 Jul 2013
  • Uganda: Activists reject mandatory HIV tests, disclosure without consent in proposed HIV Prevention and Control Bill 19 Jul 2013
  • Uganda: Parliamentary Committee considers controversial criminal law amendments to 2010 Prevention of HIV/AIDS Bill 19 Jul 2013
  • Canada: HIV non-disclosure prosecutions "out of all proportion and profoundly unjust" by @AIDSLAW ED (correct link) 10 Jul 2013
  • Canada: HIV non-disclosure prosecutions are "out of all proportion and profoundly unjust" by @AIDSLAW ED #HIVCan 10 Jul 2013
  • "An incredible resource on HIV criminalization->@HIVJusticeNet This issue concerns us ALL..." Thank you for the endorsement @zoemavroudi 09 Jul 2013
  • Canada: Halifax prosecutor claims HIV seroconversion can take up to 10 years following sexual exposure #HIVignorance 08 Jul 2013
  • Greece: Scientists and human rights campaigners condemn reinstatement of Provision 39A allowing forced HIV testing 08 Jul 2013
  • US: Nushawn Williams loses civil confinement hearing, will remain in custody for life #noHIVjustice 04 Jul 2013
  • RT @joeamon: #Greece: Repeal Abusive Health Regulation #HIV forced testing, detention 04 Jul 2013
  • RT @zoemavroudi: Greek Center 4Disease Control @keelpno_gr announced it supports law that led to forced tests of HIV+drug users.Its twitter… 04 Jul 2013
  • RT @condommonologue: #HIV nondisclosure law has not kept up w/ scientific advancements on HIV transmission. Must c free film PositiveWomen … 04 Jul 2013
  • RT @TheSeroProject: HIV Criminalization Poses a Serious Threat to Transgender Health 04 Jul 2013
  • Video, slides, resources now available from last week's HIV criminalisation webinar on the US REPEAL Act 04 Jul 2013
  • Greece: New health minister reinstates forced HIV testing law weeks after the former ministerial decree was repealed 04 Jul 2013

An overview of HIV and the role of criminal law

There will be calls for ‘law and order’ and a ‘war on AIDS’. Beware of those who cry out for simple solutions, for [in] combating HIV/AIDS there are none. In particular, do not put faith in the enlargement of the criminal law.

Justice Michael Kirby, High Court of Australia, 19911

When discussing issues related to the role of the criminal law in regards to potential or actual HIV exposure or transmission, a common frame of reference for key facts and concepts is required. In particular, it is important to understand where the use of the criminal law might fit within the broader context of the global HIV epidemic and evidence-informed methods of HIV prevention. The purpose of this chapter is to provide such a frame of reference in relation to the following topics:

  • the global HIV pandemic
  • evidence-informed HIV prevention
  • the challenge of HIV-related stigma
  • the role of human rights in the global response to HIV
  • the role of the law in the global response to HIV.


  1. Kirby M The Ten Commandments. [Australian] National AIDS Bulletin, March 1991
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.