Impacts of Criminalization on the Everyday Lives of People Living with HIV in Canada
- 939 Downloads
Over the last decade, there have been a rising number of prosecutions for nondisclosure of HIV status along with heightened media attention to the issue in Canada. One hundred twenty-two people living with HIV were interviewed concerning the effects of criminalization on their sense of personal security and their romantic and sexual relationships. The largest number of respondents believe that criminalization has unfairly shifted the burden of proof so that they: are held to be guilty until proven innocent; are now caught in a difficult he-said/(s)he-said situation of having to justify their actions, disgruntled partners now have a legal weapon to wield against them regardless of the facts and the onus now falls on women whose male partners could ignore their wishes regarding safer sex. In terms of general impact, many respondents report: a heightened sense of uncertainty, fear or vulnerability, but others feel that the climate of acceptance is still better than in the early days of the epidemic or that the prosecution of the high profile cases is justified. The increasing focus of the court system on penalizing non-disclosure is having counter-productive or unanticipated consequences that can run contrary to the ostensible objective of discouraging behaviour likely to transmit HIV.
KeywordsHIV transmission Criminal justice People living with HIV Canada
This study was made possible with the assistance of Robb Travers, Sean Rourke and Jason Globerman; advisory committee members Murray Jose, Rick Kennedy, Frank McGee, Eric Mykhalovskiy, Fanta Ongoiba, Ryan Peck, John Plater, Michael Sobota and James Watson and support by a grant from the Ontario HIV Treatment Network.
- Adam, B., Elliott, R., Husbands, W., Murray, J., & Maxwell, J. (2008). Effects of the criminalization of HIV transmission in Cuerrier on men reporting unprotected sex with men. Canadian Journal of Law and Society, 23(1–2), 137–153.Google Scholar
- Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. (2012). Criminal prosecutions for HIV non-disclosure: Two cases before the supreme court of Canada. Toronto: Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.Google Scholar
- De Wit, J., Ellard, J., Murphy, D., Zablotska, I., & Kippax, S. (2009). Sexual practices, serostatus disclosure and relationships. In S. Cameron & J. Rule (Eds.), The criminalisation of HIV transmission in Australia (pp. 100–107). Newtown: National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS.Google Scholar
- Elliott, R. (1999). After Cuerrier: Canadian criminal law and the non-disclosure of HIV-positive status. Montreal: Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.Google Scholar
- Elliott, R., & Symington, A. (2012a). Mabior and D.C.: does HIV non-disclosure equal rape? (part 1). TheCourt.ca, February 7, 2012, online: http://www.thecourt.ca/2012/02/07/mabior-and-d-c-is-criminal-law-the-answer-to-non-disclosure-part-2/.
- Elliott, R., & Symington, A. (2012b). Is criminal law the answer to HIV non-disclosure? (part 2). TheCourt.ca, February 7, 2012, online: http://www.thecourt.ca/2012/02/07/mabior-and-d-c-does-hiv-non-disclosure-equal-rape-part-1/.
- Global Commission on HIV and the Law. (2012). Risks, rights & health. New York: UNDP, HIV/AIDS Group, Bureau for Development Policy.Google Scholar
- Heaphy, B. (2001). The (im)possibilities of living as people with AIDS. In S. Cunningham-Burley & K. Backett-Milburn (Eds.), Exploring the body (pp. 117–136). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Henriksson, B., & Månsson, S. (1995). Sexual negotiations. In H. ten Brummelhuis & G. Herdt (Eds.), Culture and sexual risk. Luxembourg: Gordon and Breach.Google Scholar
- Holt, M., Rawstorne, P., Worth, H., Bittman, M., Wilkinson, J., & Kippax, S. (2011). Predictors of HIV disclosure among untested, HIV-negative and HIV-positive Australian men who had anal intercourse with their most recent casual male sex partner. AIDS and Behavior, 15, 1128–1139.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Larcher, A., & Symington, A. (2010). Criminal and victims? Toronto: African and Caribbean Council on HIV/AIDS in Ontario.Google Scholar
- Menadue, D. (2009). The impact of the criminalisation issue on HIV-positive people. In S. Cameron & J. Rule (Eds.), The criminalisation of HIV transmission in Australia (pp. 146–153). Newtown: National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS.Google Scholar
- Mykhalovskiy, E., Betteridge, G., Mclay, D. (2010). HIV non-disclosure and the criminal law. Toronto: A report funded by a grant from the Ontario HIV Treatment Network.Google Scholar
- Public Health Agency of Canada. (2010). Undiagnosed HIV infections in Canada. HIV/AIDS Epi updates—July 2010. Ottawa: Public Health Agency of Canada.Google Scholar
- Stirratt, M. (2005). I have something to tell you. In P. Halkitis, C. Gómez, & R. Wolitski (Eds.), HIV+ sex (pp. 101–119). Washington: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
- Symington, A. (2009). Criminalization confusion and concerns: the decade since the Cuerrier decision. HIV/AIDS Policy & Law Review, 14(1), 5–10.Google Scholar
- Weait, M. (2007). Intimacy and responsibility. New York: Routledge-Cavendish.Google Scholar
- Welch Cline, R., & McKenzie, N. (2000). Dilemmas of disclosure in the age of HIV/AIDS. In S. Petronio (Ed.), Balancing the secrets of private disclosures (pp. 71–96). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar