We are concerned that the current criminal law and media sensationalism may make people
Less likely to talk openly and honestly about sex, HIV and other sexually transmitted infection
Reluctant to get health care for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, which may result in poor health and a greater risk of HIV transmission during sex
Feel stigmatized because they have HIV (or people may think they have HIV), and more likely to face discrimination
Avoid HIV testing out of a fear that they may be criminally charged
Fear public health staff and mistakenly presume that public health staff and police are working together
Think that the criminal law will protect them from being exposed to HIV
HIV non-disclosure charges and convictions in Canada and Ontario
- At least 97 people have been charged
- Since 2003 there has been an average of 10 cases per year.
- At least 59 people have been convicted.
- In 24 cases a person was convicted even though there was no HIV transmission alleged to have taken place.
- Almost 90% of the people convicted have gone to jail.
- White people make up about 30% of people charged. Black people make up almost 25%. Aboriginal and other people make up about 6%. We don’t know the race or ethnicity of the other people charged.
- Leads Canada with at least 47 cases and 31 convictions.
- About 40% of the people charged have been white, 30% have been black, 7% have been aboriginal or another race or ethnicity. We don’t know the race or ethnicity of the other people charged. Since 2005, 40% of men charged have been black.
Mykhalovskiy, E., Betteridge, G. “The criminalization of HIV non-disclosure in Canada: A preliminary analysis of trends and patterns.” Unpublished data. 31 December 2009.
Canadians’ knowledge and attitudes about HIV/AID
32% of people believe incorrectly that HIV can be transmitted through kissing
29% believe incorrectly that HIV can be transmitted through a mosquito bite
26% would feel uncomfortable working in an office where someone developed HIV/AIDS
49% say that they would feel uncomfortable using a restaurant drinking glass once used by a person living with HIV/AIDS
20% do not believe in supporting the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS
HIV/AIDS Attitudinal Tracking Survey 2006: Final Report. EKOS Research Associates Inc., 31 March 2006
Expert Public Health Advice
An expert panel organized by the Federal/Provincial/ Territorial Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS concluded that, “Unwarranted punitive measures taken against relatively few difficult cases could impair the effectiveness of voluntary programs for the many routine cases through increased stigmatization or fear of discrimination; this may lead to the increased spread of HIV.
Persons who fail to disclose their HIV/AIDS status: Conclusions reached by an expert working group.” Canada Communicable Disease Report (2005) 31:5