Law enforcement and HIV
‘Police can be your best friend, or your worst enemy’: this is a truism to anyone working with marginalised communities at risk of HIV infection – sex workers, injecting drug users, men who have sex with men, incarcerated populations, and others. In many parts of the world where the HIV epidemic is raging most intensely, police behaviour towards these people is the major determinant of their risk of acquiring or passing on HIV.
A major CLEPH project is the Law Enforcement and HIV Network (LEAHN) (www.leahn.org). Serving and retired police officers in 17 countries worldwide who are supportive of harm reduction approaches to policing among these communities operate in a peer support and advocacy network. The network provides training, resources, news and updates and activities. LEAHN has published a Statement of Support by police for harm reduction policing, which has gained thousands of signatures (of serving and retired police) and is being regularly promoted at both police and HIV sector venues worldwide. CLEPH provides the management ‘hub’ for LEAHN and ongoing support with communication and other activities.