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Author Topic: German AIDS Advisory Board follows Swiss example  (Read 4495 times)

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Offline Dr.Strangelove

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German AIDS Advisory Board follows Swiss example
« on: March 23, 2013, 11:06:24 am »
There are some interesting developments going on in Europe.

This week the German AIDS Advisory Board has made the following statement concerning criminalization of HIV:
"The HIV infection has become a treatable chronic disease. In Germany, life expectancy at appropriate medical care is nearly normal. But people with HIV still experience limitations especially in everyday social life. They are often stigmatized in both the workplace and in their home environment and discriminated against. Also criminal court judgments and their public perception play a crucial role in this context.

For criminal assessment the National AIDS Council points out the following medical factors:

HIV has a low infection rate compared to other sexually transmitted diseases. The transmissibility of HIV depends primarily on the amount of virus. In the first weeks after infection the viral load is particularly high and can amount to several million viral copies per milliliter of blood. The immune system, however, usually manages to control the infection after a few weeks. The viral load drops and can be kept low by the bidy for months or years months even without medication. During this time, the risk of infection is much lower than in the early phase of infection. When the  immune system gets weaker, antiretroviral therapy is initiated. With effective treatment, the viral load falls below the detection limit (less than 50 viral copies / ml blood). If the virus replication is permanently suppressed completely, according to current medical knowledge HIV is not transmitted sexually. The risk reduction of successful antiretroviral therapy is at least as effective as correct use of a condom.
It is assumed that a large proportion of HIV transmission takes place during the early stages of HIV infection, at a point in time where the infected person typically is not aware of his infection. HIV antibody tests detect HIV only weeks after infection occurred.

Against this background, the National AIDS Committee emphasizes:

Any basis for criminal implications of HIV infections during consensual sexual intercourse has to appreciate those medical facts.

It can not be judged schematically, whether a HIV-infected person can be made criminally responsible for passing on the virus. It rather depends on the circumstances of each case and, in particular, the reasonable expectations of both sexual partners.

In any case, in a volatile, consensual sexual encounter both parties are responsible for the application of protective measures, regardless of the knowledge or the acceptance of one's own status and the status of the other person. Ascribing roles such as perpetrator or victim is not appropriate.

Criminal proceedings regarding the transmission of HIV from consensual sexual intercourse do not contribute to HIV prevention. They can be counterproductive to the willingness to get tested and to an open communication between sexual partners. In contrast, it is in the interest of the individual and society to increase HIV-test readiness.
Sorry for the sloppy translation. Here is the Link

The National AIDS Council is an independent advisory body of the Ministry of Health. It is interdisciplinary with experts from the fields of research, medical care, public health services, ethics, law, social sciences etc. As far as I understand its role is similar to that of its Swiss counterpart.

There are no particular HIV laws in Germany as far as I know. Cases of criminalization are based on the law for grievous bodily harm. So, it's up the judge to decide how he interprets it and if he takes into account certain circumstances such as viral load. The sentences for HIV transmission have been rather inconsistent in the past. Many have been suspended on probation. Others got a few years of jail time.

I think this statement by the AIDS council is a huge step towards decriminalization of HIV. Clearly, Switzerland set the example here. I wonder if other countries will follow.
Are we seeing a paradigm shift here? Not sure.
I wonder to what extend the courts are going to follow the reasoning of the AIDS council in HIV transmission cases.

Offline Ann

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Re: German AIDS Advisory Board follows Swiss example
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2013, 12:25:06 pm »
A breath of fresh air! :)

Thank you for posting that, Strangelove.

Sorry for the sloppy translation.

There is only one place where I felt sceptical about the translated word --

"In any case, in a volatile, consensual sexual encounter both parties are responsible for the application of protective measures, regardless of the knowledge or the acceptance of one's own status and the status of the other person. Ascribing roles such as perpetrator or victim is not appropriate.

"Volatile" isn't quite the right word. I'm thinking more along the lines of "unstable" or "unpredictable". In other words, one word that sums up "one night stands" or "tricks" but in a more polite manner.

A quick comparison of the laws in England and Wales from Terrence Higgins Trust:

In England & Wales, you may be found guilty of reckless HIV transmission if all of the below apply:
You had sex with someone who didn’t know you had HIV

You knew you had HIV at that time

You understood how HIV is transmitted

You had sex without a condom

You transmitted HIV to that person.

For more in-depth reading of UK laws...

Aidsmap's HIV & the criminal law

gmfa.org's HIV transmission and the law


Global Commission on HIV and the Law

And one for the Yanks...

seroproject.com (warning, a video will start once the page is loaded)

edited to fix dodgy formatting
« Last Edit: March 23, 2013, 01:48:05 pm by Ann »
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Offline Dr.Strangelove

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Re: German AIDS Advisory Board follows Swiss example
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2013, 12:49:33 pm »

I actually never used the word 'volatile' before. Just trusted Google Translate with that one. What the statement means are lose contacts or short-lived encounters, like one-night stands.

Offline mecch

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Re: German AIDS Advisory Board follows Swiss example
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2013, 06:38:50 pm »
The laws in Switzerland governing "criminality" in HIV transmission and HIV disclosure are hideous.

If Germany doesn't have HIV transmission criminalisation, they are already well in advance of Switzerland. 

The so-called Swiss Statement (about the likelihood of transmission under HAART) and Swiss laws are two different things.  Do not confound them.

We are still waiting for decriminalisation in Switzerland....

Bravo Germany.
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline tednlou2

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Re: German AIDS Advisory Board follows Swiss example
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2013, 01:45:41 am »
That is a breath of fresh air.  While on the topic, I just learned Illinois has made changes to their guidelines.  I was reading an article about a police officer charged for allegedly not disclosing, and came across that info.  However, he is being charged under the old guidelines, as it happened before the change.  Btw, I am not familiar with this news paper/news agency, but I think it is the first time I've read a news article, where they didn't portray the accused as an AIDS monster and already convicting him in the press.  I was pleasantly surprised they took a more intellectual approach. 

"A Cicero Police officer is facing a charge of criminally transmitting HIV, a charge that AIDS advocates say relies on stigmatization and misinformation on HIV.
Officer John Savage, 38, of LaGrange Park, is of accused of engaging in sexual activity with a 24-year-old man without disclosing his HIV-positive status.

According to a statement by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart's office, Savage and the man went to a movie July 29 last year and then engaged in sexual activity at Savage's home. Later, the release says, the man asked Savage about his HIV status and Savage revealed that he is HIV positive. The man contacted LaGrange Police.

Savage was arrested March 13 and has been released on an I-Bond. He is scheduled in court March 21.

AIDS advocates have long opposed criminal transmission laws, noting that exposure to other diseases is not criminalized.

"People with HIV become demonized basically as people that are spreading diseases," said John Peller, vice president of policy for AIDS Foundation of Chicago.

Peller said that science has shown that for people receiving HIV treatment who have undetectable viral loads, there is not a risk of transmission.

Further, he said, transmission charges are hard to prove because they often rely on personal accounts of non-disclosure.

"It becomes a 'he said, she said' case that is extremely difficult to prosecute and is often unfair to the person living with HIV," said Peller.

Details about the particulars of Savage's case were not included in the statement put out by police.

HIV transmission laws in Illinois were tightened up last year after work by AIDS advocates, making prosecution in HIV transmission cases harder. Under new rules, prosecutors must prove that a person intended to spread HIV, did not wear a condom and engaged in insertive anal or vaginal intercourse.

But Savage will be prosecuted under old law, confirmed Tandra Simonton, spokesperson for the Cook County State's Attorney's office. Because the alleged crime occurred in July and the new law took effect Aug. 21, those exemptions will not apply to Savage's case. His charge is a Class 2 felony."



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