Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ignorance and stigma provide foundation for gay men's support of criminalisation of HIV transmission

via Aidsmap

The majority of gay men in the UK support the use of the criminal law to punish people who infect a sexual partner with HIV, a new report published by Sigma Research shows.

Overall, 57% of gay men supported the prosecution and imprisonment of people with HIV who had recklessly infected a sexual partner with the virus.

The report, titled Sexually charged, showed that men who had never been tested for HIV were the group most likely to support the use of the criminal law in this way. Earlier research has shown that men who have never tested for HIV are the group of gay men least likely to know somebody with HIV, and often feel that HIV is not present in either their social circles or everyday life.

Men who supported prosecutions generally regarded the responsibility to prevent HIV infections during sexual encounters as being vested solely with the HIV-positive partner. They also held strongly stigmatising views about HIV and appeared to have little appreciation of the effectiveness of HIV treatment.

The report’s authors note that few gay men thought that prosecutions would help reduce the transmission of HIV and express concern that such cases have created unrealistic expectations that people who know they are HIV-positive will disclose this to their sexual partners.

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