HIV CRIMINALIZATION IS A BARRIER TO CANFAR’S MISSION.
HIV criminalization stops people from getting tested. It stops people from disclosing their status. It perpetuates institutional stigma. We cannot end the HIV epidemic without decriminalization.
People living with HIV (PLHIV) are not criminals.
Currently, HIV non-disclosure is a legal risk for criminalization in Canada. Non-disclosure can lead to an aggravated sexual assault charge, the most severe of assault charges in Canada, leading to jailtime and sex offender registration for life. No other medical condition has been criminalized in this way.
Fact Sheet – HIV Non-Disclosure and the Criminal Law – Department of Justice Canada
Our laws need to catch up with science.
Over the past two decades, there have been almost 200 HIV-related criminal convictions in Canada, including convictions where there has been no HIV transmission. Canada’s long history of criminalizing PLHIV is rooted in stigma and outdated science.
Advancing HIV Justice –
HIV Justice Network
Research from the global community shows that criminalization is discriminatory, contributes to the stigmatization of PLHIV, and deters people from seeking out HIV testing and treatment, making HIV criminalization both a public health issue and a human rights violation.
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U=U is saving lives.
Decades of HIV research has led to significant advancements in the prevention and treatment, of HIV. Years of evidence show that when on effective treatment and with an undetectable viral load, people living with HIV cannot pass it on. Undetectable equals untransmittable, or U=U.
The Power of Undetectable –
Recent cases making history.
Jennifer Murphy was convicted in 2013 of aggravated sexual assault for not disclosing her HIV status to a sexual partner. In August 2022, she was acquitted of her conviction by the Ontario Court of Appeal, setting precedence for future HIV non-disclosure cases.
At the time of prosecution, Jennifer was receiving HIV treatment and her viral load was undetectable, making her acquittal a significant milestone in the legal recognition of U=U and the fight against HIV criminalization in Canada.
End HIV criminalization for good.
HIV criminalization has dire consequences on the quality of life for PLHIV by reinforcing stigmatization and creating institutional barriers that impede CANFAR’s mission of seeking out testing, treatment, and care. While the federal government engaged in community consultations earlier this year to address HIV stigma within the criminal justice system, no changes to the Criminal Code have yet been implemented, leaving PLHIV vulnerable to social stigma and unjust criminal charges.