Sexually charged: the views of gay and bisexual men on criminal prosecutions for sexual HIV transmission

C. Dodds, P. Weatherburn, A.H. Bourne, G. Hammond, M. Weait, F. Hickson, D. Reid, K. Jessup

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


The views of gay and bisexual men on criminal prosecutions for sexual HIV transmission: Across the world there has been an increase in criminal prosecutions of people with HIV for passing their virus to someone else. Some jurisdictions have passed laws that specify the transmission of HIV (or exposure to it) as an offence, while others are using existing legislation to bring prosecutions (Burris et al. 2008, Pearshouse 2008). The rise in prosecutions in the UK is part of a global trend to turn to the criminal law as a solution to the public health challenge of HIV. However, there is also a growing consensus among experts in law and HIV prevention that criminal prosecutions of reckless transmission do not contribute to HIV prevention and may in fact impede it (see Adam et al. 2008, Burris et al. 2008, UNAIDS 2008, Wainberg 2008, Pearshouse 2008, Weait 2007, Burris et al. 2007, Anderson et al. 2006, Lowbury & Kinghorn 2006, World Health Organisation 2006, Dodds et al. 2005, Elliott 2002). It is argued that prosecutions increase stigma, dissuade people from HIV testing and increase expectations that people with diagnosed HIV will disclose their infection to all sexual partners (and conversely that non-disclosure equals HIV negative, a deeply problematic assumption with widespread undiagnosed infection). South African Supreme Court Justice Edwin Cameron argues: Criminalisation assumes the worst about people with HIV. And in doing so, it punishes their vulnerability. The human rights approach assumes the best about people with HIV and it supports empowerment. The prevention of HIV is not just a technical challenge for public health. It is a challenge to all humanity to create a world in which behaving safely is trulyfeasible, in which it is safe for both sexual partners, and in which it is genuinely rewarding (Cameron 2008). Our research concerns one part of the interface between criminal prosecution for sexual HIV transmission and wider HIV prevention goals, the perceptions and understandings of gay and bisexual men in the UK.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherSigma Research
ISBN (Print)1 872956 96 3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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