My Thoughts on the Criminalization of HIV Non-Disclosure

In the Positive Prevention - Train the Trainer Course, the subject of HIV disclosure & the law was covered with a facilitator from HALCO- HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic (Ontario). After the presentation we were all asked how we felt about this information. My reaction was that it scared me. Unless I can prove I disclosed to someone before having sex, then I can be prosecuted, and I could go to jail. How do I prove that I disclosed? The other person can be HIV positive as well and still claim that I could have put him at risk for a re-infection, the same law would apply.

I made up my mind, when I do meet the right person, he will totally understand the risks, understand the law and why I have disclosed to that person. It seems like an impossible thing to do sometimes - who is going to want to get involved and go through all of that? But I know there are people out there that will do this and for the right reason.

Still, let’s say I meet someone, we date for a while, I have disclosed to the person, we practice safe sex, everything is great until one day, something happens and it’s over. Now based on what I believe to be the law, this person can go to the police, claim I didn't disclose my HIV status and I am charged.

So how do you prove that you have disclosed? A few suggestions that came out of the Positive Prevention Course and literature supplied suggested that you discuss your status while socializing with friends so that your friends can see that you told the person, then you have a witness. Another suggestion was to seek relationship counselling and discuss everything with the counsellor, again you have a witness. The suggestion of writing up a letter and have the person sign it was also discussed but it was determined to be not a very easy thing to prove even if it was drawn up by a lawyer.

As most of us know, having HIV is a learning experience. There is always something new that we have to be educated in that is important to our mental and physical health and now our legal rights. If they are going to criminalize for non-disclosure, then make the laws fair.

The Ontario Aids Network is circulating a petition online at the address below. You can find more about the changes to the laws concerning discloser. These laws have to reflect our human rights so please read the objectives and sign the petition; I did.

http://www.ontarioaidsnetwork.on.ca/clhe/

To find out more about HIV and the law, Halco can be reached by:
Phone:1-888-705-8889
Website: www.halco.org

I also found this article on a site called Positive Lite, written by Bob Leahy. There are two short videos attached to the article on the laws and how stigma plays a part in the making of the law changes. The cases discussed are in the United States but they could play a part in what Canada is trying to do.

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