Countries should avoid using criminal law to deal with HIVAIDS UN agency

“There have been numerous cases in which people living with HIV have been criminally charged for conduct risking the transmission of the virus,” Marika Fahlen, UNAIDS Director of Social Mobilization and Information, said at the launch of a new report, Criminal Law, Public Health and HIV Transmission, which calls for reasoned approaches by lawmakers in using criminal law to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.“But we must be careful to avoid overreacting based on misinformation and prejudice, and must not resort too quickly to criminal prosecutions,” she told a press conference at the XIV International AIDS Conference in Barcelona. “Such situations can lead to a miscarriage of justice and promote stigma and discrimination.”According to the report, criminalization could be counterproductive and undermine public health messages to reduce or avoid activities and behaviour that increase the risk of infection.Instead, properly crafted public health laws used as an alternative to criminal law can often better achieve public health goals, the report says. Such statutes may also allow for a better balance between individual liberty and protecting the health of the general population through ensuring that individuals who are HIV-positive receive adequate counselling and access to health care services.