- Category: HIV Law & Criminalization
- Published on Tuesday, 29 July 2014 00:00
- Written by Gregory Fowler
An increasing body of evidence indicates that police practices -- including confiscating condoms from sex workers, arresting people for using drugs, and persecuting gay men and transgender people -- can impede public health and discourage people from accessing crucial HIV prevention and care services.
The Open Society Foundation and others held a media briefing at the 20th International Conference on AIDS last week in Melbourne to discuss how criminalization interferes with adequate response to HIV and hepatitis C, and how law reform and changing police practices can contribute to improving the response.
Daniel Wolf and Michel Kazatchkine, AIDS 2014 press briefing, July 22, 2014.
"As public health experts we often refer to sex workers and people who inject drugs as so called 'hard-to-reach populations,' but the reality is that the police in many countries seem to have little difficulty in reaching them," said Daniel Wolfe from OSF's Harm Reduction Development Program. "Unfortunately, they often reach them with punishment and fear, and no heath system can work, no AIDS target can be reached, if people are afraid to use services for fear of arrest."
"Reform of police practice in some ways is as critical to HIV prevention as a clean needle or a condom," he added.
Media briefing. 20th International AIDS Conference. Melbourne, July 20-25 2014.