What is HIV "Criminalization" ?

  “HIV criminalization” refers to the use of criminal law to penalize alleged, perceived or potential HIV exposure; alleged nondisclosure of a known HIV-positive status prior to sexual contact (including acts that do not risk HIV transmission); or non-intentional HIV transmission. Sentencing in HIV criminalization cases sometimes involves decades in prison or requires sex offender registration, often in instances where no HIV transmission occurred or was even likely or possible. Only those who get tested and know their HIV-positive status are prosecuted, something that can discourage those at risk from getting tested and accessing treatment for fear of future prosecutions. HIV criminal laws are based on long-outdated and inaccurate beliefs about the routes and risk of HIV transmissions. Such laws perpetuate misperceptions about risks for HIV transmission and increase stigma against people living with HIV. By placing those who are aware of their HIV-positive status at increased risk of prosecution, HIV criminal laws contradict public health goals seeking to expand HIV testing and engagement in care and treatment
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