Punitive laws have been shown to block HIV service access and increase HIV risk. Harmful laws include the criminalization of same-sex sexual relations, transgender people, HIV exposure, non-disclosure and transmission, drug possession and use, and sex work.

Countries that criminalize key populations saw less progress towards HIV testing and treatment targets over the last five years—with significantly lower percentages of people living with HIV knowing their HIV status and achieving viral suppression than in countries that avoided criminalization. Even greater gains were achieved in countries where laws have advanced human rights protections, particularly those that protected rights to non-discrimination and responded to gender-based violence.

Decriminalization is a critical element to end AIDS by 2030. However, despite the compelling evidence, many discriminatory and punitive laws remain. Communities are advocating for change, and are helping to build a growing movement for decriminalization. 

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