Terrence Higgins Trust today welcomed the publication of new guidance from the CPS on prosecution of reckless or intentional transmission of STIs, including HIV.
“For years now we have seen huge variations in how justice has been administered in this area of the law. This has caused problems for police, courts and people caught up in prosecutions.” said Lisa Power, Head of Policy at Terrence Higgins Trust. “The new CPS guidance will go a long way towards removing confusion, cutting the most inappropriate investigations short and clarifying where people with HIV and other STIs stand if they transmit them.”
Lisa continued “THT accepts prosecutions for intentional transmission, but we remain opposed to prosecuting reckless transmission. We believe that it harms rather than helps public health goals. However, if prosecutions do take place, it is important that they are regulated and consistent in their conduct and that anyone with an STI knows clearly what the law is.”
Although only 13 cases, all of HIV transmission, have so far gone to Crown Court in England & Wales (ten of them resulting in convictions), many more cases have been pursued and abandoned since 2003 due to faulty understanding of the law and of HIV/STI issues by local CPS staff and by police officers. This has been both costly and damaging. Terrence Higgins Trust, along with other community organisations, clinicians and police, has worked with the CPS for the past 18 months to produce guidance to regulate the situation.
Further information on the law in this area and what it means for people with HIV or other STIs can be found at www.tht.org.uk/prosecutions. Anyone concerned about a possible prosecution is advised to call THT Direct on 0845 1221 200.