Global Commission Agrees: Anti-HIV Laws Are The Worst Idea Ever

By: Daniel Villarreal

Early this week, the Global Commission on HIV and the Law released a 146-page report that basically called laws criminalizing HIV transmission cruel, counterproductive and all around dumb.

With a little help, we've summarized the report into a quick read below. That way you can understand the issue and sound like a genius when you mention it over brunch cocktails this weekend.

In short, the commission heard over 1,000 people from more than 140 countries—including some countries with laws punishing homosexuality and gender non-conformity.

The commission concluded that anti-HIV statutes merely punish and degrade HIV-positive people, LGBT folks and sex workers without really reducing the spread of HIV or AIDS at all.

This echoes some of what the Open Society Institute said back in 2008:

"Laws criminalizing HIV exposure and transmission are drafted and applied too broadly, and often applied unfairly, selectively and ineffectively to punish behavior that is not blameworthy (such as the accidental transmission of the virus to a sex partner).

"Rather than introducing laws criminalizing HIV exposure and transmission, legislators must reform laws that stand in the way of HIV prevention and treatment and use existing criminal laws to prosecute the intentional transmission of HIV with malicious intent."

The Global Commission concluded that countries can better reduce HIV and AIDS by passing laws against LGBT discrimination, by letting LGBT folks form community groups and by providing all citizens with access to "comprehensive, affordable, and affirming" health care and HIV treatment services.

They also called anti-gay, HIV-phobic churches "evil" which was kinda badass too.

If you want extra credit, learn what U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee is doing to get rid of similar anti-HIV laws in America in this summary of her 2011 Repeal HIV Discrimination Act—it's only 269 words long and if you read it, your pals will probably buy you an extra mimosa for knowing so much about international health and politics, you genius you.

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