VAC and Living Positive Victoria push to end discriminatory HIV laws
The Victorian AIDS Council and Living Positive Victoria have released a joint statement today outlining five principles which call for the repeal of a Victorian law that criminalise HIV transmission.
As the world’s 20th AIDS conference draws to close in Melbourne, the two organisations, which both advocate for the health and wellbeing of people living with HIV AIDS, are pushing to achieve a commitment from the state’s health ministers to work toward ending 19a of the Crimes Act: a discriminatory law surrounding HIV transmission and exposure.
In a preconference event prior to AIDS 2014, Health Minister David Davis committed to an amendment of 19a – but advocates worry the amendment could prove to be more discrimatory and are urging for the repeal of the law.
The VAC and Living Positive Victoria are now calling for bipartisan support to remove 19a from the legislature.
“We now call for bipartisan political commitment on the following five key principles to support an action plan on implementing world’s best practice for dealing with HIV exposure and transmission within both the criminal and public health law,” the VAC and Positive Living Victoria wrote in a statement.
The Five Principles
Principle 1 - HIV treated as a public health issue
Where there is a concern that a person with HIV may put others at risk, a public health case management approach is best placed to produce good outcomes. The terms of the review should be designed to ensure that HIV transmission and exposure are treated as matters of public health and appropriately managed within the existing public health system wherever possible.
Principle 2 – Excise section 19A from the Crimes Act
The amendment of the Crimes Act 1958 to repeal section 19A is the appropriate mechanism to ensure that HIV discrimination is removed. Any amendment of the Crimes Act must not extend legal discrimination to people with other infectious diseases.
Principle 3 - Appropriate use of the Crimes Act in non-intentional transmission and exposure cases
The appropriate use of the criminal law should be supported by a review of the circumstances and practice of HIV related matters in and a commitment to best practices including prosecutorial guidelines.
Principle 4 – Expert and community consultation
Such review of the appropriate use of criminal law relating in HIV-related matters should be supported by broad community and civil sector consultation and expert advice.
Principle 5 – Actions delivered within 12 months
Implementing these principles will require adequate time for a consultation process and the development of legislative options to enable the appropriate use of the Crimes Act 1958 and the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 in HIV matters. Reform and review must be completed by the first anniversary of AIDS 2014 (i.e. by 25 July 2015).
The VAC and Positive Living believe a commitment to these principles will take Victoria one step closer to its goal of ending HIV by 2020.
“A commitment to these principles will move Victoria forward in addressing the enabling factors identified in the Melbourne Declaration 2014 and will be a part of the AIDS 2014 legacy for all Victorians towards the virtual elimination of new HIV transmission by 2020.”