I was quite pleased when Godfrey Zaburoni (yes his name was disclosed in the media) who was sentenced to more than nine years in jail for intentionally infecting his partner with HIV had his conviction overturned in an Australian High Court.
Yes he did knowingly have repeated unprotected sex with his partner who later tested positive for HIV, but I stand strongly on the belief that it takes two to have sex, the onus is on both parties to get tested. If someone says to you “I swear I am HIV negative”, it is your own fault if you take them at their word and have unprotected sex with them. It sounds harsh but that’s life. The situation in adulterous relationships and marriages is different as there are expectations of fidelity.
Anyway back to the subject at hand— HIV criminalisation is on the rise according to a report by the HIV Justice Network.
To put it simply, HIV criminalisation describes the unjust application of the criminal law to people living with HIV based solely on their HIV status. Such unjust application of the criminal law in relation to HIV is (i) not guided by the best available scientific and medical evidence relating to HIV, (ii) fails to uphold the principles of legal and judicial fairness (including key criminal law principles of legality, foreseeability, intent, causality, proportionality and proof), and (iii) infringes upon the human rights of those involved in criminal law cases.
Their report summarises a body of research which shows that instead of delivering a public health benefit, HIV criminalisation is a poor public health strategy, exacerbating racial and gender inequalities and negatively impacting a number of key areas including: testing, disclosure, sexual behaviour and healthcare practice.
They found over the reporting period covering April 1 2013 to September 30 2015 at least 313 arrests, prosecutions and/or convictions in 28 countries. Top countries are Russia, United States of America (USA), Belarus and Canada.
The reason why there aren’t many African countries with high rates of criminalisation is probably poor reporting.
However during the period covered by the report four countries in sub-Saharan Africa passed new HIV criminalisation laws: Botswana, Cote d’lvoire, Nigeria and Uganda.
Do you know any stories on HIV criminalisation in Malawi? Know of anyone that attempted to prosecute someone or was prosecuted? I would love to hear from you.