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Clinical posts from members and guests of the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) from various international medical and scientific conferences on HIV, AIDS, viral hepatitis, and sexual health.
Danger! Danger! Criminal endangerment offences are an obstacle to the HIV response
Paul Kidd is the Chair of the Victorian HIV Legal Working Group.
In this session, Paul discussed the definitions of laws in Victoria which involve Human Endangerment and PLWH. POAR Guidelines are in place to intervene to protect Public Health. The focus of these guidelines are to achieve behavioural changes to protect human rights. The problem Paul stated is that once a HIV positive individual has had allegations of Human Endangerment made against them, their privacy is lost forever, and they are publicly shamed.
Paul discussed prosecution when intent and HIV transmission occurs. For ths to happen, it has to be shown that sex occurred, there was appreciable danger and HIV was subsequently transmitted.
Unfortunately HIV is stigmatised as a "Dread" disease and unfortunately stigmatism is alive and well in the Courts. Jurors ignore scientific evidence because of stigma in the media. Stigma drives stigma.
The key points taken from this session are that we may be winning the battle with HIV for effective treatment and prevention, but not for stigma. Policy changes are needed for more just and compassionate treatment of people with HIV before the Law Courts.