Date Published: 22 May 2009

New guide explains UK prosecutions for HIV transmission

Two leading HIV charities have today launched a guide for people living with HIV in England and Wales explaining criminal prosecutions for HIV transmission.

Prosecutions for HIV Transmission, written by NAT (National AIDS Trust) and THT (Terrence Higgins Trust), explains the law around HIV transmission in a straightforward way, answers some common questions and provides practical advice for anyone accused of HIV transmission or considering making a complaint against someone for HIV transmission.

Since 2003, people living with HIV in England and Wales have been prosecuted for the reckless transmission of HIV. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) recently clarified the law around prosecutions for HIV transmission. Whilst NAT and THT both remain opposed to prosecutions for reckless HIV transmission, this new guidance provides an objective account of the law and practical advice.

Yusef Azad, Director of Policy and Campaigns, NAT, said:

Today the majority of investigations into HIV transmission do not go to court but they can still cause much distress for all involved.

NAT is still campaigning for an end to prosecutions for reckless transmission of HIV through consensual sex. But while prosecutions occur we are working with THT to ensure that all those involved – lawyers, prosecutors, police, support organisations, healthcare workers and most importantly people living with HIV understand the law. Everybody living with HIV in England and Wales should read this leaflet.”

Lisa Power, Head of Policy, Terrence Higgins Trust, said:

"It's really important that everyone with HIV knows what the law says and does in relation to their lives. We've supported many people - both complainants and defendants - who got involved in prosecutions for passing HIV without taking proper advice and regretted it later. This leaflet would have helped them."

As well as producing guidance for individuals living with HIV, THT and NAT are working to ensure police investigate allegations of reckless or intentional HIV transmission appropriately.

Source: Terrence Higgins Trust (THT)

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