In many countries, including Canada, HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) infection is significantly more prevalent among people in prison than among the population as a whole. In part, this is because people from communities that are already disproportionately affected by HIV — including people who use drugs — also face disproportionate rates of incarceration. But it’s also because people in prison often don’t have access to the same health services available to people outside prison — a violation of human rights.
Depending on the setting, the lack of opioid substitution therapy (e.g. methadone), condom distribution, sterile injection equipment and other harm reduction measures are all factors driving the HIV epidemic in prisons. Infections acquired in prison ultimately result in greater public health costs. And, since most prisoners are eventually released back into the community, harm to the health of those in prison also harms public health more broadly.
We work with a range of partners, in Canada and internationally, to improve access in prisons to:
- voluntary and confidential HIV testing;
- services to reduce HIV and other harms (e.g. condom and lubricant distribution, safer tattooing programs, drug dependence treatment, needle and syringe programs); and
- uninterrupted antiretroviral treatment and other medical care.
Today, the HIV Legal Network marks World AIDS Day by joining with the United Nations in a call to governments around the world to reform laws, policies, and practices that create and exacerbate the stigma faced by people living with HIV. This year’s theme is “Equalize” and we are recommitting ourselves to working to challenge laws that oppress … Read more
Despite ample empirical evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of needle and syringe programs, the federal Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) refused for decades to implement this essential prison harm reduction program. After years of inaction, in 2012 the HIV Legal Network along with Steve Simons, a man formerly incarcerated in a federal prison, and three HIV … Read more
The HIV Legal Network promotes the human rights of people living with HIV or AIDS and other populations disproportionately affected by HIV and criminalization, in Canada and internationally. In 2021, we undertook a planning process that would shape the strategic goals and priorities for the organization’s next five years (2022-2027). To do this, we sought … Read more
In 2021, the HIV Legal Network undertook a planning process that would shape the strategic goals and priorities for the organization’s next five years (2022-2027). To do this, we sought the input of a broad range of stakeholders, from partner organizations to people living with and affected by HIV and criminalization, to staff. All identified … Read more
Today — International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) — is not just a day of reflection but a call to action. It is a plea to governments, organizations, and individuals to come together and prioritize life, health, and dignity above prejudice and stigma as we push toward a world where people who use substances are met with … Read more
November 30, 2022 — Today, the HIV Legal Network marks World AIDS Day by joining with the United Nations (UN) in a call to governments around the world to reform laws, policies, and practices that create and exacerbate the stigma faced by people living with HIV. With this year’s theme being “Equalize,” we are focused … Read more
POINTS OF PERSPECTIVE: NEW REPORT ON NORTH AMERICA’S FIRST-EVER PRISON NEEDLE EXCHANGE PROGRAM (IN CANADA) SHOWS CRITICAL LIMITATIONS AND CHALLENGES
November 29, 2022 — Today, researchers at the HIV Legal Network and Toronto Metropolitan University have released Points of Perspective, the very first national independent study of Canada’s “Prison Needle Exchange Program” (PNEP). It is based on interviews with people formerly incarcerated in federal prisons across the country and provides an overview of the PNEP … Read more
WORLD AIDS DAY 2021: FORTY YEARS OF HIV, FORTY YEARS OF PROGRESS The following can be attributed to the HIV Legal Network. November 30, 2021 – Toronto – Tomorrow is World AIDS Day — a day to reflect on the current state of HIV and AIDS in the world, where we started, and how … Read more
HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS FILE LEGAL CHALLENGE CITING CANADA’S FAILURE TO PROTECT PRISONERS’ HEALTH IN THE CONTEXT OF COVID-19
On May 12, 2020, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), HIV Legal Network, Canadian Prison Law Association (CPLA), HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO), and current federal prisoner Sean Johnston filed a constitutional and human rights challenge against the Government of Canada, to compel it to take proactive steps to ensure prisoners’ safety in the … Read more