Despite significant advances in HIV, the criminalisation of PLHIV continues to be prevalent across the globe, including in developed countries such as Australia. HIV prevention is a public health issue, not a criminal justice issue. If we are serious about committing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and reaching the UN 95-95-95 targets, more needs to be done to combat the discrimination and stigma experienced by PLHIV and the vulnerable / marginalised populations HIV affects.
We as scientists, clinicians, health workers, academics, peer workers, and advocates can help combat all kinds of stigma and discrimination against PLHIV by working with the most marginalised communities and continuing to challenge the misinformation and misconceptions around living with the virus, and how it is transmitted.
“By reinforcing stigma, HIV criminalisation makes it more difficult for those at risk of HIV to access testing and prevention. It also makes it more difficult for those living with the virus to talk openly about it, and to be tested, treated and supported”. (Justice Edwin Cameron, Beyond Blame Conference 17 July 2016)
Author bio: Lucy Thallon is the Clinical Nurse Consultant for the HIV Response Team at Cairns Sexual Health Service. She is passionate about sexual and reproductive health and rights, with her work focusing on marginalised populations affected by HIV.