Fundamentals

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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.

References

  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 It may have been superseded by more recent developments.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.