HIV and the Law: Risks, Rights & Health

In a number of countries criminal laws are being applied to people living with HIV in the belief that this will curb the spread of HIV and Aids. Norway is, we are sorry to say, still one of those countries where the authorities believe criminalisation is an appropriate tool to prevent further infections.

On the occasion of HivNorway’s 25 year anniversary we will organize a conference with “HIV and the Law: Risks, Rights and Health” as the central theme. In particular we will look at why criminalizing HIV transmission achieves neither criminal justice nor prevents further infections.

Among the invited speakers are Law professor Michael Kirby, co-chair of the Technical Advisory Group of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law.

The conference will be in English and takes place in the auditorium at Kunstindustrimuseet, St. Olavs gate 1 on Tuesday May 28 from 11.00 am.

The conference will address the following issues and dilemmas regarding the use of the penal code:

-  When applying criminal laws to HIV exposure, should this be covered by a special provision? If the answer is no–what are the consequences?

-  What does “intentional conduct” or “gross negligence” imply?

-  Will effective HIV treatment and/or low viral load be recognised as a defence?

-  What does informed consent mean?

-  Does criminalisation of HIV transmission help or hurt the response to the HIV crisis?

-  What are key scientific, medical and legal considerations that should be taken into account?

-  How can we protect human rights and public health while still addressing truly blameworthy cases of transmission? And what defines a blameworthy case? 

How can legislation on serious communicable diseases be applied that takes into consideration the public health aspect as well as the rights and integrity of the individual?

A special law commission has looked at present legislation in this country and its recommendation was submitted last October. It proposes a soft liberalisation of the present day penal code Section 155. How do the recommendations of international bodies like UNAIDS fare with proposed legislation?

The conference is open to all interested parties, but it is recommended that you give prior notification to HivNorway before Friday May 10. You can use the form below or send us an email.

About our main speaker:

The Hon. Michael Kirby (Co-Chair) was appointed as Deputy President to the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in December 1974. In 1975 he was seconded to be the inaugural Chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission. He served in that post until 1984. Between 1983 and 1984 he was a judge of the Federal Court of Australia followed by his appointment to the Presidency of the New South Wales Court of Appeal. He was elevated to the High Court of Australia in February 1996 and retired from that Court on4 February 2009, six weeks short of the mandatory retiring age defined by Section 72 of the Constitution.


Michael Kirby has participated in many national and international bodies, including as President of the International Commission of Jurists and as the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Human Rights in Cambodia. He has served in many agencies of the UN, most recently UNAIDS, UNODC, ILO, WHO, UNDP and UNESCO. In 2007, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights appointed him to be a member of the International Judicial Reference Group of her Oce. He also serves as a member of the UNAIDS Global reference panel on human rights. On his retirement from the High Court Michael Kirby was elected an honorary life member of the Australian Bar Association and the NSW Bar Association.

He is an honorary Bencher of the Inner Temple, and Fellow of the Society of Legal Scholars, both in London, and of the American Law Institute and the American Society of International Law in the United States. He holds fifteen honorary degrees from Australian and overseas universities. In March 2009 he was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators, Australia and a member of the Council of that body. In 2010, he was also appointed to be a member of the Eminent Persons Group advising on the future of the Commonwealth of Nations.