People living with HIV have a duty under Canadian criminal law to disclose their HIV status to sex partners before having sex that carries a significant risk of HIV transmission. People living with HIV have been charged, convicted and sent to prison when they have not disclosed—even when no one became infected with HIV.
The criminal law also applies to other sexually transmitted infections. But with the exception of three cases (involving herpes, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C), only people living with HIV have been prosecuted.
HIV is not easy to transmit. And HIV medications reduce the risk of transmission and have transformed HIV for many people into a chronic manageable illness.
Prosecutorial guidelines are an important part of the solution. Guidelines can help police and Crown Prosecutors handle HIV-related criminal complaints in a fair and non-discriminatory manner. Guidelines can help ensure that cases are informed by current medical and scientific knowledge about HIV and the social contexts of living with HIV.
This document provides an excellent summary of some of the key issues regarding the criminalization of HIV-non disclosure.