New guidance offered on prosecution of STI's &HIV

Publish Date: 18/03/2008

After extensive consultation with organisations over a period of 18 months, the CPS has devised a public policy and guidance statement that covers the Code for Crown Prosecutors and how it should be implemented in all cases.

The guide also outlines offences the CPS will consider in relation to cases of the intentional or reckless sexual transmission of infection, what needs to be proven in order for charges to be brought as well as witness and victim care issues.

The publication of the guidelines has been met with support from HIV & Sexual Health charities.

While stating they maintain their opposition to prosecutions for the reckless transmission of HIV, the National AIDS Trust welcomes the clarifications the CPS has made.

Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of the National AIDS Trust said: "Criminalising HIV transmission increases stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV and can deter testing.

"However this new guidance from the CPS is helpful in clarifying the prosecution process.

Lisa Power, Head of Policy at Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) added: "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 STI's stand if they transmit them.

To date there have been ten convictions in England and Wales under Section 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (OAPA), all based on the reckless transmission of HIV.

Thirteen cases in total have so far gone to Crown Court in England and Wales, although many more have been pursued and abandoned. You can read the full guidance here