Published January, 2010

Living With HIV, Global Network of People Living With HIV (GNP+) (2010)

This document from the Global Network of People Living With HIV (GNP+) is designed to give an overview of the impact of the HIV epidemic from the perspective of HIV positive individuals. It analyses various factors that had an effect—either positive or negative—on the epidemic, like treatment and HIV criminalization laws, and considers how such factors interplay with the social and personal lives of HIV positive individuals.

The document begins by giving a broad, introductory lesson on the basics of HIV, including the means by which it can be transmitted. The paper goes on to present some of the current epidemiological trends, presenting information both on its global and regional prevalence.

The stigma surrounding HIV plays a significant role in seropositive individuals sense of self worth and their reaction to finding out their serostatus. This document connects more general stigma with HIV criminalization, because stigma affects how likely an individual is to disclose his or her HIV status. In fact, since HIV criminalization laws increase stigma towards seropositive individuals, they may actually lower the rate of disclosure to a sexual partner. The UN Rapporteur on the Right to Health concluded that criminalization for non-malicious HIV exposure is detrimental to the right to health. Additionally problematic is the possibility that criminalization laws place the burden on the seropositive sexual partner instead of promoting a view that all individuals should be responsible for their own sexual health.

The document ultimately indicates that while the global HIV epidemic has dramatic national repercussions, the current stance that many nations take against it may cause more problems than they solve. A more holistic approach should be taken by governments in their prevention efforts, focusing on laws and policies that are protective and supportive of HIV positive individuals.