Criminal HIV Transmission (book)

NAM, 2007

The first single resource to provide an overview of the issues, I wrote and edited this medico-legal book to assist people working with and within the criminal justice system who require up-to-date information in clear, layman’s language about the science – medical, clinical, social, epidemiological, and forensic – of HIV transmission as it may relate to the criminal law.

The preface, by South African Supreme Court Justice Edwin Cameron, notes that "the book is written clearly and comprehensibly, and provides a meticulous overview of HIV-related medical and social science, and law.”

The book is split into four sections.

HIV in context provides basic information on transmission, testing, treatment, prognosis and life expectancy. 

HIV and behaviour provides the reader with a working knowledge of how individuals, at-risk communities and society as a whole are informed about, interpret, and act upon sexual HIV risk-taking. It also explains how HIV-related stigma and discrimination – both actual and perceived - affect the acquisition and sharing of information about HIV on an individual, community and societal level, and why the terms ‘safer sex’ and ‘disclosure’ can take many forms and mean different things to different people.

Sexual HIV transmission provides a detailed overview of how HIV can be transmitted sexually, and what factors increase or decrease the likelihood of transmission.  It also explains the difference between HIV exposure and HIV transmission and points out the very real difficulties of knowing when a person may have exposed someone to HIV, and when a person has been infected with HIV.

HIV forensics explains how evidence can be used to prove or disprove the fact, timing and direction of sexual HIV transmission. In particular, it shows how and why individual elements of the scientific evidence collected during a criminal investigation should only be seen as small pieces of a much larger puzzle.

© 2008 - 2011 Edwin J Bernard