Covering Risk: HIV Criminalization and Condoms

In Canada, people living with HIV can be criminalized for not disclosing their status before engaging in a sexual activity where there is a “realistic possibility of HIV transmission.”

Although the possibility of HIV transmission when a condom is used ranges from negligible to none, the law remains unsettled about whether condoms are sufficient on their own to negate a realistic possibility of transmission. While some policymakers and courts have recognized condom use as sufficient to negate that possibility, people living with HIV in Canada remain at risk of prosecution for alleged non-disclosure before sex with a condom.

Criminalizing people who take precautions to protect their partners and pose no to negligible risk of transmission is unfair and discriminatory against people living with HIV. It is contrary to scientific evidence and international recommendations. It is bad for public health. Policymakers must take action to prevent these unjust prosecutions.

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