3. How does it impact on public health?

Does criminalization rehabilitate behaviour that place others at risk of HIV? 

No. The criminal law seeks to blame and punish, rather than support and educate. People living with HIV are a diverse group of people, and HIV has a very different meaning and presence within people's lives.

People living with HIV who may be fearful of knowing their status, are struggling to come to terms with an HIV diagnosis, or who are marginalised by stigma or discrimination in their community, are far more likely to respond to therapeutic support that educates, and encourages behaviour change, than criminal sanctions.

Sentencing for criminalization rarely considers therapeutic responses or rehabilitation and is more likely to involve a jail term. This in itself runs contrary to public health aims.  Access to treatment, condoms and clean injecting equipment for people living with HIV are often compromised in prison; increasing the risk of HIV transmission.

Fast facts about HIV criminalization
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