NAT welcomes new guidance in Scotland on prosecutions for HIV transmission.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) today published their Guidance for Scotland on 'Intentional or Reckless Sexual Transmission, of Exposure to, Infection'. 

Prosecutions for HIV transmission in Scotland began in 2001 and since then there has been a need for people with HIV to have clarity as to what the law in Scotland requires.  This need became even more urgent with the most recent prosecution where someone was also convicted for the first time simply of exposing partners to the risk of transmission, without transmission having actually taken place. 

The COPFS Guidance is to a large degree consistent with that developed by the Crown Prosecution Service in England and Wales.  It provides helpful advice on such areas as evidence for recklessness and for transmission.  In relation to charges for 'exposure' it provides reassurance that charges for exposure alone will take place in only the most exceptional of cases. 

Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT (National AIDS Trust), comments:  

'NAT welcomes the new Scottish Guidance on Prosecutions for Sexual Transmission of, or Exposure to, Infection - and for the willingness of the Crown Office to hear from HIV organisations such as NAT in developing their advice.  We trust this marks the beginning of an ongoing relationship in which issues and concerns can continue to be raised, discussed and as appropriate acted on.  The Guidance allays many of our most significant worries - but we do still hope that a way can be found to end prosecutions for exposure to risk of HIV infection.  Such prosecutions unjustly target people with an HIV diagnosis with all the responsibility for safer sex, despite the fact most transmissions are from the undiagnosed.  They also encourage fear and secrecy rather than honesty and openness as we talk about sex - and so harm public health.'

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Notes to the editor:

For further information please contact:  
Charli Scouller
Communications Manager
020 7814 6733 

NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expertise and practical resources. We champion the rights of people living with HIV and campaign for change. 
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