HIV and the law

Fundamental to Australia's success in responding to HIV has been the creation of a supportive legal framework, commonly referred to as an 'enabling legal environment'. This can sound like jargon but it is fundamental.

The construction of a supportive legal and policy framework protects people with HIV and people in affected communities against human rights abuses and discrimination. The result is that HIV prevention, care and support strategies targeting each community are more likely to be effective.

The central role of people with HIV and people affected by HIV in building the ‘enabling’ environment has been key to Australia’s approach in responding to HIV. Community-led policy analysis and law reform advocacy has ensured the maintenance of a human rights framework that generally supports prevention strategies.

This section outlines:

  • the basics of state/territory public health policies, including what is meant by ‘mandatory reporting’ of HIV diagnoses, and policies for the public health management of people regarded as placing others at risk of HIV infection
  • Privacy and anti-discrimination protections in place to ensure the confidentiality of a person’s HIV status.

Problematic criminal prosecutions of people with HIV for transmitting HIV or exposing others to HIV can be fodder for sensational media reports that misrepresent facts and issues, and stigmatise people with HIV. Information in this section will assist in preparing careful, accurate reports.

Issues regarding Australia's migration health requirement are also outlined. Moral panics conflating the issues of HIV and immigration continue to play out in political and public debates and can be fuelled partly by media reports based on inaccurate information, distorted commentary and at times, racism. This section provides factual information on how Australia’s migration policies affect people with HIV