Rather than helping to slow the spread of HIV, the current legal and regulatory terrain is actively working to undermine prevention and treatment projects.
Many countries still enforce punitive laws, which end up depriving people of HIV care and perpetuate concentrated epidemics within marginalised communities.
These laws include those that criminalise HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission; laws against sex work, sodomy or homosexuality; and the criminalisation of people who use illegal drugs.
Professor of Law, Aziza Ahmed from the USA, cites one outrageous example. In her home country, spitting and biting continue to be used as a reason to criminalise people with HIV despite the fact that neither activity poses any transmission risk.
Countries where there are no such laws, or where a harm reduction approach is taken, tend to have more successful HIV programs, she said.
She called on delegates at the 2013 IAS Conference in Kuala Lumpur to accept responsibility for creating a legal and policy landscape that enables the implementation of effective and high-quality HIV care, treatment, and service programs.
"We need an environment that does not discriminate, that does not stigmatise, and does not marginalise the very people who need our support and care," she said.