Ten Facts about HIV Non-Disclosure Legislation in CanadaPublished on Friday, 29 May 2015 15:45
1. As of January 2014, approximately 155 individuals since 1989 have been criminally charged in Canada for not disclosing their HIV-positive status.
2. After only the United States, Canada has the worldwide highest number of arrests and prosecutions for HIV non-disclosure. Countries including Switzerland, Congo, Guinea, Togo, and Senegal have revised their HIV non-disclosure laws or adopted new legislation limiting the use of criminal law to exclusively cases of intentional transmission.
3. With the exception of a handful of prosecutions related to other sexually transmitted infections, prosecutions for non-disclosure in Canada have focused on HIV only.
4. The charge for non-disclosure is most often for aggravated sexual assault.
5. Since 1998, people living with HIV in Canada can be prosecuted for not disclosing their HIV-positive status before having sex that represents a significant risk of transmission, but the notion of significant risk is inconsistently interpreted.
6. Some people have been charged and convicted in HIV non-disclosure cases where, based on medical and scientific evidence, the sexual activity they engaged in did not pose a significant risk of transmission.
7. The estimated per-act risk of transmission from an HIV-positive woman to a male sexual partner through vaginal sex is 1 transmission in every 2,500 sexual encounters.
8. When an HIV-positive woman’s viral load is low, this risk drops to 1.3 expected transmissions in 10,000 sexual encounters.
9. When a condom is used, the per-act risk of transmission from an HIV-positive woman to a male sexual partner through vaginal sex is at most 1 in 12,500 sexual encounters.
10. Out of 14 women charged for HIV non-disclosure in Canada, 10 have been charged with aggravated sexual assault. The charge carries maximum penalty of life imprisonment and sexual offender registration, which can be detrimental to employment and housing access.
Source: British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS