Prosecuting HIV-Related Criminal Cases in Canada: A Model Policy

Canada has been identified as a global hotspot of HIV-related prosecutions. As of 2022, there have been well over 200 prosecutions for alleged HIV non-disclosure in Canada. Canada’s use of the criminal law in relation to HIV has been recognized as overly broad and punitive by a wide range of stakeholders including the federal government, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, international health agencies and human rights bodies, Canada’s HIV and scientific communities, and women’s rights advocates.

This document is intended to assist prosecution authorities in developing guidance to avoid the harmful use of the criminal law in relation to HIV and ensure the wise use of scarce prosecutorial resources. Although other sexually transmitted infections may raise similar concerns to HIV, it has overwhelmingly been cases involving HIV that have attracted prosecution and judicial commentary. As such, HIV-related prosecutions are the focus of this document.