Policing the margins: HIV, crime and stigma

Stream: Law and Policy: HIV
Date: Thursday, 31 March 2016
Time: 3.30 pm – 4.45 pm


The repeal of Australia’s only HIV-specific indictable criminal offence, section 19A of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), has focused attention on the impact of criminal prosecutions on the HIV response – specifically, the impact that criminal prosecutions have on stigma, discrimination and the marginalisation of people living with HIV (PLHIV). This paper will critically examine the application of the criminal law to allegations of HIV transmission and exposure, in Australia and globally, as a driver of stigma and an impediment to realising the human rights of PLHIV. We argue that the history of HIV criminalisation illustrates the problematic role of the law in social control, the production of stigma and the policing of deviance. We suggest that in the case of HIV transmission, exposure and nondisclosure, the application of criminal law is detrimental to society as well as to the individuals involved: it accentuates stigma by casting PLHIV as a dangerous group who place the community at risk of harm. This undermines the human rights of people living with HIV, and creates—rather than dissipates—barriers to seeking testing, support and other health services.


Lucy Stackpool-Moore, International HIV/AIDS Alliance

Paul Kidd (Presenter), Victorian HIV Legal Working Group
Paul Kidd is an activist and writer with an interest in legal issues affecting PLHIV. He has been living with HIV for almost 30 years, during which time he has written and spoken extensively on the experience of living HIV and issues affecting positive people. Paul has served on the Boards of Living Positive Victoria, VAC, and Hepatitis Victoria; and was President of Living Positive Victoria from 2009 to 2011. He is currently chair of the Victorian HIV Legal Working Group, is a member of the Victorian government LGBTI Taskforce Justice Working Group, and is completing a degree in law.

Brent Allan, Living Positive Victoria

Heath Paynter, Cohealth

Simon Ruth, Victorian AIDS Council