UNICEF warns of HIV crisis in teen girls

Pearl Mccarthy
July 28, 2018

"Young people have grown up, they are incredibly mobile, they move, they have forgotten that HIV is a risk, and we must, we cannot stop passing on this message", says Linda-Gail Bekker, director of organization.

Around 36.7 million people around the world have HIV, according to 2016 figures cited by the UNs' HIV and AIDS body UNAIDS. Another 33 countries are known to have applied other criminal law provisions in similar cases.

While most countries have significantly scaled up their HIV treatment programmes, some to the extent of reaching 80 per cent of people living with HIV with antiretroviral therapy, many are not being diagnosed and treated soon enough, allowing transmissions to occur before they start treatment or if treatment is interrupted. "Over 45,000 people nationwide are living with the disease untested", he said.

However, globally, access to HIV services for men who have s3x with men is still being blocked by bad laws. Prosecutions, and convictions, have often been influenced by a lack of knowledge or appreciation of scientific evidence regarding the possibility of transmission of the virus.

The British royal has teamed up with one of his mother's close friends, Sir Elton John to launch the MenStar coalition - a new $1.2bn global organisation aimed at helping men break the HIV cycle through testing & treatment with the ultimate goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

"The scientific community has spoken and now the criminal justice sytem, law and policymakers must also consider the impact of prosecutions on the human rights of people living with HIV", said Michaela Clayton of AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA).

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It is not possible for an HIV positive person to transmit the virus in their saliva while kissing, biting or spitting.

The statement was endorsed by the International AIDS Society, International Association of Providers of AIDS Care, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and other organisations and scientists.

Although Thomas used condoms, had an undetectable viral load and did not infect his partner, he was given two 15-year sentences to run consecutively.

South Africa has not adopted an HIV-specific criminal law, although there was a push to do so in 1999.

Worldwide guidance on HIV in the context of the criminal law recommends that "proof of causation, in relation to HIV transmission, should always be based on evidence derived from a number of relevant sources, including medical records, rigorous scientific methods and sexual history" (Ending overly broad criminalization of HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission: critical scientific, medical and legal considerations).

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