An innovative partnership was formalised in 2010 between RFSU (the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education), HIV-Sweden, and RFSL (the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights) to raise awareness and advocate against the criminalization of HIV transmission and exposure in Sweden.
The partners ave been working to educate and inform politicians, judges, lawyers and other key decision-makers on the negative impact of the current legislation on the HIV response. The goal of this 3-year project is toget a review of the Swedish Communicable Diseases Act as well as a change in the application of legislation and regulations surrounding people living with HIV in Sweden.
In 2011 there has been both good and bad ‘news’. On the bad side media is still often using discriminating language. In June, for example, media wrote about a young man, 20 years old and born with HIV, and again used the headline: "The HIV-man". The background to this story was that his former girlfriend reported him to the police for not having told her about his infection. The media reports used a very rough language and when the authorities decided to use forced isolation to control his behaviour the young man went underground. When a TV-show on criminal cases announced that they would show his picture on TV if he didn´t turn him self in, the young man decided to do so.
On the good side; the project have been working hard to educate and inform politicians, judges, lawyers and other key decision-makers on the negative impact of the current legislation and practise of the courts. The goal of this 3-year project is to get a review of the Swedish Communicable Diseases Act as well as a change in the application of legislation and regulations surrounding people living with HIV in Sweden.
Good progress is being made in Sweden to raise awareness on the issues, but there is still a lot of work to do to reach the goal of triggering a review of the law. Politicians and authorities have become more aware about the difficult situation in Sweden and there is a more vivid discussion on the matter now.
Furthermore on the positive side, the Swedish Prosecution Authority accepted to meet the project to open a direct discussion. That meeting generated the decision of the prosecutors to take part in the national conference on HIV and criminalization on the 29th of November. Also the police officers handling the case of the young man in the case described above did attend the conference.
To conclude, the project is now entering it´s last year and there are good hopes that it will achieve it´s goal. The project has given the participating organisations and others the opportunity to discuss the issues from different perspectives and on a broader base. Which is urgently needed in Sweden.
2012 will be dedicated towards making the politicians that now hold the decisions in it´s hands, to make their move. The three organisations that run the project are very dedicated to do everything it takes to get a review of the law up and running before the project is over in the end of 2012.
After the national conference in december 2011, Edwin Bernard wrote a blogpost about his wiews on Sweden, read more.