National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States
President Obama committed to developing a National HIV/AIDS Strategy with three primary goals:
- reducing the number of people who become infected with HIV,
- increasing access to care and optimizinghealth outcomes for people living with HIV, and
- reducing HIV-related health disparities.
To accomplish these goals, we must undertake a more coordinated national response to the HIV epidemic.The Strategy is intended to be a concise plan that will identify a set of priorities and strategic action steps tied to measurable outcomes. Accompanying the Strategy is a Federal Implementation Plan that outlines the specific steps to be taken by various Federal agencies to support the high-level prioritiesoutlined in the Strategy. This is an ambitious plan that will challenge us to meet all of the goals that we set. The job, however, does not fall to the Federal Government alone, nor should it. Success will require the commitment of all parts of society, including State, tribal and local governments, businesses, faith communities, philanthropy, the scientific and medical communities, educational institutions, people living with HIV, and others. The vision for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy is simple:
The United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur,every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socioeconomic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination.
Criminalization of HIV Exposure or Transmission
Recent years have seen the creation, particularly in parts of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean, of HIV-specific laws that criminalize HIV transmission and exposure. At the same time, particularly in Europe and North America, existing criminal laws are increasingly being used to prosecute people for transmitting HIV or exposing others to HIV infection.The push to apply criminal law to HIV exposure and transmission is often driven by the wish to respond to serious concerns about the ongoing rapid spread of HIV in many countries, coupled by what is perceived to be a failure of existing HIV prevention efforts.These concerns are legitimate. Recently, particularly in Africa, some groups have begun to advocate forcriminalization in response to the serious phenomenon of women being infected with HIV through sexual violence or by partners who do not reveal their HIV diagnoses to them.While these issues must be urgently addressed, a closer analysis of the complex issues raised by criminalization of HIV exposure or transmission reveals that criminalization is unlikely to prevent new infections or reduce womenís vulnerability to HIV. In fact, it may harm.
10 Reasons to Oppose Criminalization of HIV Exposure or Transmission
- Criminalizing HIV transmissionis justified only when individuals purposely or maliciously transmit HIV with the intent to harm others. In these rare cases,existing criminal laws can and should be used, rather thanpassing HIV-specific laws.
- Applying criminal law to HIV exposure or transmission doesnot reduce the spread of HIV.
- Applying criminal law to HIV exposure or transmission undermines HIV prevention efforts.
- Applying criminal law to HIV exposure or transmission promotes fear and stigma.
- Instead of providing justice to women, applying criminal law to HIV exposure or transmissionendangers and further oppresses them.
- Laws criminalizing HIV exposure and transmission are drafted and applied too broadly, and often punish behavior that is not blameworthy.
- Laws criminalizing HIV exposureand transmission are often applied unfairly, selectively and ineffectively.
- Laws criminalizing HIV exposureand transmission ignore the rea lchallenges of HIV prevention.
- Rather than introducing laws criminalizing HIV exposure and transmission, legislators must reform laws that stand in the way of HIV prevention and treatment.
- Human rights responses to HIV are most effective.