International News

Laws That Criminalize Gays Hurt HIV Treatment: Study

July 11, 2012

Bad laws and customs are hindering an effective response to HIV/AIDS globally, an independent commission reported Monday. Comprising former heads of state and internationally renowned HIV experts, the Global Commission on HIV and the Law based its new report on "extensive research and first-hand accounts from more than 1,000 people in 140 countries."

Specific issues cited by the report include:

  • Criminalizing homosexual acts, sex work, interventions targeting injecting drug users, and HIV exposure, non-disclosure and/or transmission;
  • Denying the rights of women and girls, hampering their ability to negotiate safe sex;
  • Denying youths access to sex education;
  • Intellectual property restrictions that can make it impossible to provide inexpensive AIDS drugs to people needing them.

Legal practices that affirm bias impede access to HIV testing and treatment by high-risk populations, the report says.

"Too many countries waste vital resources by enforcing archaic laws that ignore science and perpetuate stigma," said Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a former president of Brazil and chair of the commission. "We have the chance to free future generations from the threat of HIV. We cannot allow injustice and intolerance to undercut this progress."

"There have been over 600 HIV-positive cases of convictions in some 24 countries over the last number of years for transmission and non-disclosure, and the majority of those lie in the United States and Canada," said Stephen Lewis, co-founder of AIDS-Free World. As many as 34 states have such laws, said US Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who has authored a bill to remove them from the books.

[PNU editor's note: To access the report, visit:]

Back to other news for July 2012

Adapted from:
Agence France Presse

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.

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