Responses to criminal prosecutions for HIV transmission among gay men with HIV in England and Wales


Dodds, C; Bourne, A; Weait, M; (2009) Responses to criminal prosecutions for HIV transmission among gay men with HIV in England and Wales. Reproductive health matters, 17 (34). pp. 135-45. ISSN 0968-8080 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0968-8080(09)34475-4

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Abstract

In England and Wales, criminal prosecutions for recklessly causing serious bodily harm by transmitting HIV have occurred since 2003. Understanding how people respond to the application of criminal law, will help to determine the likely impact of prosecution. As part of a wider qualitative study on unprotected anal intercourse amongst homosexually active men with diagnosed HIV in England and Wales, 42 respondents were asked about their awareness of criminal prosecutions for the sexual transmission of HIV, and how (if at all) they had adapted their sexual behaviour as a result. Findings demonstrate considerable confusion regarding the law and suggest that misunderstandings could lead people with HIV to wrongly believe that how they act, and what they do or do not say, is legitimated by law. Although criminalisation prompted some respondents to take steps to reduce sexual transmission of HIV, others moderated their behaviour in ways likely to have adverse effects, or reported no change. The aim of the criminal justice system is to carry out justice, not to improve public health. The question addressed in this paper is whether desirable public health outcomes may be outweighed by undesirable ones when the criminal law is applied to a population-level epidemic.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Adult, Criminal Law/*legislation & jurisprudence, England, HIV Infections/*transmission, HIV Seropositivity, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, *Homosexuality, Male, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Prejudice, Risk Factors, Sexual Behavior, Truth Disclosure, Wales, Adult, Criminal Law, legislation & jurisprudence, England, HIV Infections, transmission, HIV Seropositivity, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Homosexuality, Male, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Prejudice, Risk Factors, Sexual Behavior, Truth Disclosure, Wales
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Social and Environmental Health Research
Research Centre: Sigma Research
PubMed ID: 19962647
Web of Science ID: 273123300016
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/914

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