An open letter to Norwegian politicians, by Per Eidspjeld (Norway)


In Norway, a National Commission has been considering legal reforms regarding prosecution for HIV exposure or transmission. The recent report from this Commission has fallen short of the goals set by Norwegian AIDS activists in their longterm fight to stop criminalization of transmission of the HIV/AIDS virus, and would – in the opinion of myself and many fellow activists – possibly rather serve to increase transmission because it could reduce openness amongst persons with the virus and scare others from testing themselves. The international reactions speak for themselves: we need to decriminalize, and not criminalize people living with the HIV/AIDS virus.

We need broad national debate before we move to implement a new law and penal code in Norway that would only serve to further stigma and fear. Such implementation is – in my opinion – a BIG step in the wrong direction. I also firmly believe that it would send a dangerous message to the world, and especially to homophobic countries that are looking to Norway and UNAIDS for political guidance. As a pathfinder in regards to equalization of human and civil rights for the LGBT community, Norway now risks blemishing much of the good it has done by sending a mixed message and creating possible conflict of interest, which can be difficult to come to reason with.

Persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs), friends and supporters of PLWHAs, gays, heterosexuals, politicians and human and civil rights activists alike need to work to counteract and void this law and any new law proposal aimed at criminalizing persons living with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B., and hepatitis C, and which is also against UNAIDS recommendations.

People need to wake up! Together we can gain better control over the further spreading of HIV/AIDS, and initiate greater healing, equality and humanity in our society. Criminalization is clearly not the way to achieve this.

For more information about this read HERE and HERE.

Please share…

– Per Eidspjeld, Norway, international AIDS activist and visual artist.

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(photo courtesy of Per Eidspjeld)

BE SURE TO WATCH NUMB BY NUMBERS, by Per Eidspjeld

as well as the following Norwegian presentation of some of his work:

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6 comments

  1. Bruno Spire (France) has asked me to post this comment for him:

    “I totally support Per’s letter! As an activist and also as a scientist, I can confirm that HIV transmission criminalization is a useless and counter-productive idea. Nowadays, the people living with HIV (PLWH) are unlikely to transmit HIV thanks to antiretroviral therapy. Treatment allows PLWH to live and also to reduce the infectiousness of genital fluids almost to zero. However, the people who are the most likely to transmit are those who are infected without knowing it. By definition, they are not treated with antiretroviral therapy since they are undiagnosed. Moreover, studies have shown that they are more likely to behave as a seronegative person with less systematic condom use. Therefore, public health policies should encourage HIV testing, especially among vulnerable groups where sero-ignorant people may transmit HIV since they are untreated. Criminalization will discourage testing; it will give arguments for people at risk not to go for testing in order to avoid troubles with the law. Public health authorities should work with HIV-concerned individuals in order to convince other peers to go for testing and treatment. That would be much more efficient than criminalization laws! That’s why international institutions such as UNAIDS and IAS are against criminalization of HIV transmission. It is not only a matter of human rights, it is also a matter of public health.”

    – Bruno Spire, France

  2. Excellent essay! The U.S. patchwork of state laws criminalizing HIV transmission is an unmitigated disaster and runs the gambit from misdemeanor to major felony depending on what state one is in at the time of the unprotected sexual encounter. This I do know, criminalization only makes the stigma worse, and discourages persons at risk from getting tested and/or treatment, which only serves to help the increased spread of the virus. Criminalization is counter-productive to ending the spread of the disease and it is a known fact. Unfortunately the politicians who promulgate these laws are ignorant of their own failures.

  3. I enjoyed reading the article by Per Eidspjeld. The best example is when Al Jazeera recruited a journalist from South Africa for their network and only found his status to be positive at Doha. Without informing him, he was whisked away to a prison where he stayed for 4 days before being put on a flight to Johannesburg. He came back penniless to Johannesburg. I would also like to present examples of Criminalization of the HIV status when countries like UK, Australia and Canada makes it compulsory for every foreign doctor entering the country to expose their status. They are refused the employments in spite of their passing the Medical Council Exams.

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