|HIV Criminalization is Criminal|
|Written by Kwaku|
|18 November 2010|
HIV Criminalization continues to gain momentum as a unifying global human rights and advocacy issue. The Positive Justice Project (PJP) (http://bit.ly/au71dN) led by the Centre for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP) based in the United States is becoming a key stakeholder in furthering both dialogue and action to protect the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS. The PJP is using a community-driven, collaborative, multi-disciplinary and multi-pronged approach to developing comprehensive strategic approaches to addressing the complex and varied issues related to HIV criminalization. Sound familiar?
Stigma, discrimination, racism, disclosure and homophobia are deeply linked to this issue, and these same challenges can also influence one’s vulnerability and risk of HIV transmission and acquisition. Further, when you consider the disproportionate amount of Black people in North America represented in the criminal justice system, there is a great potential for African and Black populations in the Diaspora to be aware, concerned, and mobilized around HIV criminalization trends.
On November 17th, 2010, the PJP released their first comprehensive analysis of HIV criminalization in the United States entitled “Ending and Defending Against HIV Criminalization: State and Federal Laws and Prosecutions”. This resource is also a guide for lawyers and community advocates working on HIV criminalization issues. A copy of the document is available by clicking here. This is the first volume in a series that PJP will publish as an advocacy tool. While this resource does not address or compile criminal HIV cases outside of the United States, it is a template that could be modified for different regions. This extensive resource which details state-by-state the various laws and criminal cases related to HIV, is an incredible achievement for the PJP and we applaud their commitment to increasing our knowledge and deepening our understanding of this complicated issues.
For a look at HIV criminalization in Canada and around the world, AIDSphobia is an engaging video documentary launched at World AIDS Day in 2009. For the complete 10 part documentary please check our youtube channel. The following is a clip from the video. As you watch the film you will notice that in many of the Canadian criminal cases the defendants are from African and Black communities. The clip starts out with Justice Cameron from South Africa speaking at a conference in Toronto in 2009 where he states that Canada had the unfortunate distinction of being the world leader in HIV related criminal prosecutions.
Continued dialogue and developing stronger links with CHLP, PJP, as well as the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network will be important initiatives for ABDGN to explore to ensure the unique issues facing ABD populations in the context of HIV criminalization are addressed in future strategic planning directions.
For those of you in the Washington DC area, on November 30th the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPA) and the CHLP are hosting a congressional hearing on HIV criminalization. Click here for additional details.
We are the ones we have been waiting for