December 4, 2023

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The criminalization of HIV transmission/exposure imposes criminal penalties on individuals who are HIV positive and engage in sexual conduct that may or may not potentially expose others to HIV. Such punitive legal environments deter people living with HIV (PLHIV) from seeking healthcare out of fear of opening themselves to prosecution, and fail to recognize the effectiveness of HIV treatment, the impact of stigma and discrimination on the lives of PLHIV. While evidence of premeditated malicious intent to transmit HIV should be punished, such instances are very rare.

Removing criminal penalties for non-intentional HIV transmission/exposure aligns with UNAIDS 10-10-10 goals, and will propel nations towards the goal of less than 10% of countries having criminalizing laws by 2025. This study draws comparisons between the global HIV decriminalization legislative landscape and those specific to African countries.

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