A global assessment of the role of law in the HIV/AIDS pandemic

L. Gable, L. Gostin, J. G. Hodge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


This article examines the dynamic role of law as a tool, and potential barrier, to public health interventions designed to ameliorate the negative impacts of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) globally. Law impacts the lives of persons living with (and at risk of) HIV/AIDS in many ways. Laws may: (1) help to ensure that public health authorities are empowered to provide effective prevention and treatment programmes; (2) effectuate the human rights to life, health, work, education and property ownership of persons living with, or at risk of, HIV/AIDS; and (3) protect persons living with HIV/AIDS from social risks, stigma and other harms by respecting privacy and prohibiting unwarranted discrimination. However, laws can also create legal barriers in many countries that impede effective HIV/AIDS interventions by penalizing those with HIV/AIDS through criminal sanctions or other policies. As a result, it is recommended globally that laws should facilitate the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS consistent with scientific and public health practices and with a human rights framework. Effective use of existing laws that promote the public's health, and reforms of laws which impede it, contribute to improved individual and communal health outcomes concerning HIV/AIDS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)260-264
Number of pages5
JournalPublic Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Human rights
  • Law
  • Public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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