Sweden: Court of Appeal acquits ‘HIV exposure’ case, recognises National Board of Health and Welfare endorsement of ‘Swiss statement’, Minister for Social Affairs will consider reviewing application of law

Today, the Court of Appeal for Skåne and Blekinge has acquitted a man from Malmö previously convicted of exposing four women to HIV on the grounds that since he had a stable undetectable viral load on antiretrovirall treatment with no other STIs he could not cause danger to another person.

He had previously been sentenced to a year in prison and and fined 150,000 kronor (€17,000) by the lower court, but was released last week pending the appeal after the Court consulted experts from the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control (SMI).

A press release from the Swedish Courts notes the following (unofficial translation)

The Court of Appeal, for its assessment of the probability of transmission by sexual intercourse, had access to information other than that which existed at the district court. The Court of Appeal has obtained an expert opinion from the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (SMI) regarding the risk of transmission of HIV through unprotected sexual intercourse. Furthermore, Professor Jan Albert of the Karolinska Institute, was consulted as an expert.

For expert opinion and data Jan Albert has said it can be clearly concluded that the risk of transmission of HIV in vaginal intercourse without a condom is very low, provided that the HIV-infected party is on stable HIV treatment. For an HIV-positive patient to be considered to be on stable HIV treatment, as is apparent from the opinion, it requires that the patient has a consistently high adherence to their medication, that at least two consecutive viral measurements with 3-6 month intervals show that patient’s virus levels in the blood were below the lowest detectable levels in routine testing, and the patient does not carry any other sexually transmitted infection .

The Court of Appeal noted in its judgment that the investigation did not show anything other than the accused was on stable HIV treatment during the time that the charges related to, and based on what the SMI and Jan Albert have said about risk of infection, assessing the likelihood that sexual intercourse to which the charges relate means that the risk of HIV transmission was so small that no real danger could be presupposed. Since this does not meet the required elements of the crime of creating danger to another, the indictment was dismissed.

Major policy shift

The ruling reflects a major shift in policy announced last week by the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).

In a press release entitled, ‘Effective treatment reduces the risk of infection by HIV’, the agency, which is part of the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, clarified the treating physician and the individual’s responsibility under the Communicable Diseases Act – which creates a ‘disclosure obligation’ for anyone with an infectious disease.

The criteria to not be legally bound to disclose are very similar to those set out in January 2008 by the Swiss Federal AIDS Commission’s ‘Swiss statement’. They are, as follows:

For treatment of HIV infection to be considered well-functioning, patients must be highly adherent to antiretroviral treatment. Virus levels in the blood should be tested regularly, verified by two measurements between three to six months apart and the result should be virus levels below 50 copies per milliliter.

Follow-up tests should be performed two to four times a year. No other ongoing sexually transmitted disease should be suspected, as this could increase the risk of infection. When these criteria are met, the SMI estimates that infectivity is minimized in a person infected with HIV similar to wearing a condom during sexual intercourse.

HIV infection is one of the dangerous diseases included under the Communicable Diseases Act. The law states that the attending physician has the responsibility to advise people with dangerous diseases of appropriate conduct. It also says that if the person knows, or has reason to suspect, that he or she is carrying a contagious disease that person is obliged to protect others from infection.

The attending physician, when he or she takes a position on the conduct that the individual should have, should consider that a person with HIV infection who is on well functioning treatment is not required to inform their sexual partners about their infection…

People who have HIV infection, however, must act on their own initiative if there is a significant risk, for example if he or she also gets another sexually transmitted infection. This is true no matter what advice the person has previously received by their treating physician. A significant risk includes situations when someone risks coming into contact with his or her body fluids, for example during blood tests, at the dentists, or during sex with a risk of bleeding.

Coaltion of HIV experts

The National Board of Health and Welfare was itself influenced by a coalition of HIV experts. An editorial by Johan Carlson (Director of SMI), Anders Tegnell  (State epidemiologist, SMI), Jan Albert (Professor of Communicable Diseases, Karolinska Institute and Senior Physician at Karolinska University Hospital) and

Anders Sönnerborg (Professor of Clinical Virology,Karolinska Institut and Senior Physician at Karolinska University Hospital) entitled ‘HIV is no longer a life-threatening disease’, also published last week, heralded this new (for Sweden) paradigm.

Today, 21 October, SMI publishes along with Reference Group for Antiviral Therapy (RAV) a report summarising the state of knowledge with regard to the significant reduction in infectivity in treated HIV infection.

SMI and RAV estimates that the infectivity of a patient living with HIV and who have been stabilized on treatment is very low by sexual contact and minimal if a condom is used in vaginal and anal intercourse. This applies provided that there is no other sexually transmitted infections that can affect the risk of HIV transmission. It is therefore important to always use a condom, especially to protect against other sexually transmitted infections, but also to minimize any residual infectious risk for HIV.

This knowledge provides two important conclusions. Firstly, we improve the chances of early diagnosis and initiate treatment as early as possible…

The second conclusion is that current knowledge about HIV will have to influence society’s attitudes to and treatment of people living with HIV. Knowledge about HIV, how the virus is transmitted and what it means to live with HIV, need to be improved in the whole society. Especially within the health care and disease control work, but it is equally important in other areas of society, such as education and social services, the media and the judiciary.

Minister for Social Affairs will consider reviewing application of law

Göran Hägglund, Sweden’s Minister for Social Affairs reacted to the report by telling Sweden’s public broadcaster, SVT, that he will consider reviewing the application of law as it relates to HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission.

“If you have an illness that has the potential to infect, it is reasonable to disclose,” he said. “I just think that one would like to know in this situation. But the application of law is another question. Where it is possible to discuss how the law looks and applied, it may be time to consider a change.”

This policy shift is a major victory for the advocates who have been working tirelessly to change Sweden’s draconian attitude towards people living with HIV, notably the partnership of RFSU (the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education), HIV-Sweden and RFSL (the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights) who have been lobbying and campaigning to raise awareness and advocate against Sweden’s over-punitive HIV-related policies.

Hägglund also reacted to a recently-published editorial by Marielle Nakunzi, a lawyer at RFSU, which argued that the justice system has such an outdated view of HIV that it still lives in the 1980s.

“It is a matter of making sure that we always have laws that are in tune with the state of knowledge available,” he told SVT. “Therefore, we should always consider the knowledge we have. It’s about educating the justice system.”

GNP+ and the HIV Justice Network release ‘Advancing HIV Justice: a progress report of achievements and challenges in global advocacy against HIV criminalisation’

A new report released today by the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) and the HIV Justice Network highlights the tireless work of advocates around the world challenging inappropriate criminal laws and prosecutions for HIV non-disclosure, potential or perceived exposure and transmission.

Advancing HIV Justice shows that advocates around the working to repeal, modernise or otherwise limit laws and policies that inappropriately regulate and punish people living with HIV have achieved considerable success.  This is especially the case when policymakers or criminal justice system actors are open to learning more about scientific and medical advances in HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, and involve civil society – led by people living with HIV – to ensure that critical criminal law and human rights principles are followed.

“That is why we welcome the new, detailed guidance on limiting overly broad HIV criminalisation that was released last week by UNAIDS,” says Kevin Moody, International Coordinator and CEO of GNP+. “The guidance will help to continue advancing HIV justice, serving as a powerful new tool for people living with HIV, and those advocating on our behalf, in our work with policymakers and criminal justice system actors.”

Writing in the foreword, Susan Timberlake, Chief, Human Rights and Law Division, UNAIDS Secretariat, notes that Advancing HIV Justice “powerfully demonstrates that civil society advocacy on this issue is not only alive – it goes from strength to strength.”

In the 18-month period covered by the report (September 2011 to March 2013), significant advances were made in terms of:

  • building the global evidence base in order to better understand the ‘who, what, where, when and why’ of laws and prosecutions around the world;
  • generating persuasive social science that shows exactly why overly broad HIV criminalisation does more harm than good, often achieving exactly the opposite of what law- and policymakers intend in terms of public health and human rights;
  • challenging inappropriate or overly broad new laws in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States;
  • advocating for law reform in Europe and the United States, including successful repeal in Denmark and modernisation of one of Switzerland’s two laws used to prosecute potential or perceived HIV exposure; and
  • addressing legal processes and enforcement, including the creation of prosecutorial guidelines in Scotland.

However, the report also highlights that the road to law and policy reform is not always straightforward or easy, due not only to complex intersections of laws, policies and practices, but also because of each country’s unique social, epidemiological and cultural contexts.

“Despite the many incremental successes of the past 18 months, more work and more funding is required to strengthen advocacy capacity,” says the HIV Justice Network’s co-ordinator, Edwin J Bernard, who co-authored the report with Sally Cameron. “HIV criminalisation is a complex issue. It entails a detailed understanding of diverse aspects of the criminal justice system; collection and analysis of evidence of the scope and impact of prosecutions across local and national boundaries; articulation and argument about complex moral and ethical issues of trust, blame and responsibility; and inclusion of HIV prevention and human rights priorities. Development of strategies against HIV criminalisation relevant to each individual jurisdiction requires time, effort, and the involvement of multidisciplinary experts.”

Advancing HIV Justice: A progress report of achievements and challenges in global advocacy against HIV criminalisation is available as a 52 page pdf that can be read or downloaded at: http://www.advancing.hivjustice.net

Switzerland: Swiss Federal Supreme Court rules that criminal HIV exposure or transmission is no longer necessarily a serious assault

The Swiss Federal Supreme Court has ruled that HIV infection may no longer be automatically considered a serious assault, due to improved outcomes in life-expectancy on antiretroviral therapy.

A news article on the ruling, featuring Groupe sida Genève‘s spokesperson, Deborah Glejser, appeared (in French) in yesterday’s Le Temps.

Case 6B_337/2012 was heard on 19th March 2013 and published on Wednesday.  This note, written by Sascha Moore of Groupe sida Genève, explains the ruling in detail.

In a recent ruling, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court revisited its long standing jurisprudence on the severity of an HIV infection. Since 1999 (BGE 116 IV 125), any transmission or attempted transmission of HIV has been deemed to inflict or attempt to inflict severe harm and qualifies thus as an offence under article 122 of the Swiss Criminal Code relating to serious assault.

The appellant had appealed his conviction by the Superior Court of the Canton of Zurich under both article 122 and article 231 of the criminal code pertaining to transmission of human diseases for transmitting HIV to a sexual partner. The Superior court had imposed a 30 month partially suspended custodial sentence.

In the third part of his appeal, the appellant objected to the qualification of transmission of HIV as a serious injury on the grounds that, although still an incurable chronic medical condition, HIV infection is well managed thanks to current medical treatment. Life expectancy of individuals living with HIV is now nearly equal to those of persons not infected and as a result of this progress transmission should only qualify as common assault under article 123 of the criminal code.

The Federal Court agreed with the appellant to the extent that recent scientific progress and current treatment options lead to the conclusion that HIV infection does not necessarily constitute a serious threat to life. The Court nevertheless held that HIV infection still causes complex and life-long physiological and psychological changes which in some cases may lead to serious or even life threatening harm.

The ruling in effect overruled the Federal Court’s own jurisprudence that held that HIV infection is a serious injury that qualifies as serious assault and allows a finding of serious assault only if the facts of the case warrant. It thus imposes a duty on lower courts to determine in every case brought before them whether the transmission or attempted transmission qualifies as common assault under article 123 or rather as serious assault under article 122 of the criminal code.

Serious assault is punishable with a custodial sentence not exceeding 10 years, whereas the maximum sentence for common assault is 3 years. The courts reversal will certainly limit some sentences to the maximum of 3 years for common assault whereas the average sentence for HIV transmission or attempted transmission had previously varied from 2 to 4 years in cases where 122 and 231 were applied concurrently.

As opposed to serious assault which is prosecuted ex officio (without complaint), common assault is prosecuted ex officio only for those exceptions provided in paragraph 2 of article 123 that cover use of poison or weapons, assault on persons in the care of the accused or unable to defend themselves and finally assault on spouses, registered partners or cohabitating partners.

The Federal Court rejected the appellant’s other contentions that the lower court had arbitrarily rejected the appellant’s defence invoking the victim’s consent to unprotected sexual relations as well as that the Court had erred in determining that the appellant was indeed the person who infected the victim. The Court did not follow the appellant’s argument there was sufficient doubt as to the victim’s testimony to benefit the accused.

The case is remanded to the Superior Court for a fresh determination whether the conduct in question may be qualified as common or serious assault.


News from Ontario Working Group on Criminal Law and HIV Exposure

Thanks to your actions, the office of the Ministry of the Attorney General met with the Ontario Working Group on January 15, 2013, to discuss desperately needed prosecutorial guidelines. Crown counsel does not have to prosecute people who use condoms or have a low viral load, just because they can.

Canada: Analysis and implications for people with HIV following Supreme Court HIV non-disclosure decisions

The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network has published three important new resources in the aftermath of last month’s devastating Supreme Court decision which found that people living with HIV have a legal duty, under the criminal law, to disclose their HIV-positive status to sexual partners before having sex that poses a “realistic possibility” of HIV transmission.

Not disclosing in such circumstances means a person with diagnosed HIV could be convicted of aggravated sexual assault.

As well as a detailed analysis in a briefing paper (aussi disponible en français) and a shorter info sheet, the Legal Network has produced a very helpful – if depressing – Q&A for people living with HIV (aussi disponible en français) as well those who support and advise them.

It is clear from these analyses that the Supreme Court’s decisions are a major step backwards for human rights and for public health.

I am reproducing below the commentary from their briefing paper as well as the Q&A, with permission.  For the entire text, with footnotes and references, please visit the  Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network website.

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network


HIV non-disclosure and the criminal law: An analysis of two recent decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada (R. v. Mabior, 2012 SCC 47, R. v. D.C., 2012 SCC 48)


On October 5, 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decisions in the cases of Mabior and D.C. The Court decided that people living with HIV have a legal duty, under the criminal law, to disclose their HIV-positive status to sexual partners before having sex that poses a “realistic possibility” of HIV transmission. Not disclosing in such circumstances means a person could be convicted of aggravated sexual assault. In defining when there is a “realistic possibility” of transmission, the Court has set the bar very low. At this time, the only sex that the Court has recognized as not posing a realistic possibility of HIV transmission is vaginal sex that takes place when (1) a condom is used, AND (2) the person living with HIV has a low or an undetectable viral load. If both of these conditions are met, then there is no obligation under the criminal law to disclose one’s HIV status. However, the Court has not clarified how the requirement to disclose in the case of a “realistic possibility” of transmission applies to any sexual activity other than vaginal sex.


For people living with HIV and for those working in the field of HIV prevention and care, these decisions are a major step backward from the Supreme Court of Canada’s previous decision in Cuerrier. While the Court said it was maintaining the “significant risk” test it previously established in 1998, it has deprived the word “significant” of much meaning. A “significant risk” of transmission must now be understood as a “realistic possibility” of transmission, and the Court says this includes anything higher than a “negligible threshold” or anything more than a “speculative possibility.”

By deciding that there is a duty to disclose before vaginal sex unless both a condom is used and a person’s viral load is low (i.e., where the risk is almost zero), the Court effectively decided that almost any risk, no matter how small, could trigger a duty to disclose, even as the Court also declared that it did not want to criminalize “any risk, however small.” This was but one of numerous contradictions in the Court’s judgments in these cases. In essence, the Court purported to put some limit on the scope of the criminal law, but that limit was largely illusory.

The Supreme Court recognized that although the law must ensure that consent to sex is meaningful, “not every deception that leads to sexual intercourse should be criminalized.” It also stated that there must be a balance between a sexual partner’s interest in autonomy and equality in consenting to sex, which values are entrenched in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and “the need to confine the criminal law to conduct associated with serious wrongs and serious harms.” The Court further acknowledged that an overly broad use of the criminal law would be unfair and stigmatizing for people living with HIV, and that the experience of other common law jurisdictions “sounds a note of caution against extending the criminal law beyond its appropriate reach in this complex and emerging area of law.”

Yet despite these multiple warnings, the Supreme Court of Canada chose to expand the scope of the criminal law in cases of HIV non-disclosure and to clearly indicate that its new test of disclosure being required in the case of a “realistic possibility” of transmission is “specific to HIV.” Moreover, although the Court was clear that “[t]he potential consequences of a conviction for aggravated sexual assault … underline the importance of insisting on moral blameworthiness in the interpretation of [the law],” it failed to address the issue of the mens rea (i.e., “guilty mind”) required to obtain a conviction for HIV non-disclosure, as had been suggested by the coalition of AIDS organizations. As a result, based on the Court’s decisions in Mabior and D.C., a person who acts responsibly by taking highly effective precautions to protect their partner, and who has no intent to cause harm, can face charges of aggravated sexual assault.

Finally, the Court did say that the law should be open to “adapting to future advances in treatment.” Such advances could further affect both the risks of HIV transmission and the harm associated with HIV. But very significant advances have already taken place. When treatments are available, HIV is already a chronic and manageable disease. Moreover, the impact of treatment on dramatically reducing what are already very small risks is now well established. It is therefore unfortunate that the Court refused to consider this existing evidence about the impact of low viral load sufficient to preclude criminal charges.

In addition to its contradictory approach to assessing and criminalizing the risk of HIV transmission, the Court’s approach to consent was also deficient. The Court made a passing reference to an earlier, leading case (R. v. Ewanchuk) about when consent to sex is not valid; Ewanchuk concerned rape myths and situations where there was no real consent to sex because it was forced or because a person was afraid to refuse. The Court also repeatedly asserted that its approach in Mabior and D.C. was in line with the Charter values of equality and sexual autonomy.

But nowhere did the Court meaningfully analyze how the law protects personal autonomy and advances equality (i.e., specifically for women) by overriding the consent of an adult to engage in sex solely because of the absence of certain information they might prefer to know. The Court ignored the cases decided in Canada since Cuerrier on HIV non-disclosure and much of the analysis emerging from various other, similar jurisdictions where the trend is to limit the criminal law. Whether or not the Supreme Court wants to admit it, people do have sex without full and complete information about their sexual partners all the time — including in circumstances which can give rise to some risk of serious harm. Yet the law does not step in to all such circumstances to override consent and criminally prosecute the lack of disclosure of information.

Consenting adults are capable of deciding whether to have protected or unprotected sex without being aware of whether a particular partner does or does not have HIV or another sexually transmitted infection (STI), and do so often. Contrary to the Court’s basic assumption, sexually active adults are not deprived of their autonomy, including their ability to decide whether to practise safer sex, simply because they lack information about a sexual partner’s HIV or other STI status.

The Court also failed to consider the challenges associated with disclosure of a heavily stigmatized and misunderstood condition: repercussions can include loss of privacy, discrimination and rejection, and even violence. Lack of disclosure may not be about asserting force over another person in order to gain sexual gratification — which is the assumption behind equating it with aggravated sexual assault — so much as about protecting oneself from violence or other harm. By broadly asserting that this is about protecting the dignity and autonomy of the sexual partner without any examination of the range of factors at play when people have sex, the Court revealed a shallow understanding of the values that it purports to protect when criminalizing HIV non-disclosure, even in cases where the risk of transmission is miniscule. Such an approach trivializes sexual assault and diverts the law from protecting women’s physical and sexual autonomy.

In addition, the Supreme Court decisions in Mabior and D.C. did not provide much certainty in the law. There are many questions that remain unanswered and that will be tested in courts on the backs of people living with HIV. Do people have a duty to disclose before they engage in oral sex? What about those who have an undetectable viral load at the time they have oral sex? How do these decisions apply to anal sex?

Finally, these decisions further undermine public health and the rights of people living with HIV. They create additional disincentives to seek HIV testing and will discourage some people from talking with their counsellors and physicians about their sexual and disclosure practices, as medical and counselling records can be subpoenaed and used in criminal investigations.

The Court’s decisions will also disproportionally affect the most vulnerable. Access to treatment was once an issue of public health and social justice. Now it is also a criminal issue. People with inadequate access to care, treatment and support may not be able to establish a low viral load. If they do not or cannot disclose their status — including because of fear of violence or other negative consequences — they will be exposed to criminal conviction and imprisonment. Based on the Supreme Court of Canada’s judgments, a condom alone is not sufficient to avoid conviction.

The Court has put another tool for coercion into the hands of abusive partners. This can only exacerbate the vulnerability of HIV-positive people in abusive and/or violent relationships to blackmail and threats of prosecutions, an outcome that will disproportionately affect women living with HIV. In summary, the Court’s decisions in Mabior and D.C. make already bad and unclear law, which has resulted in uneven application and injustice in numerous cases, even worse — for people living with HIV, for HIV prevention and care efforts, and hence for public health.

Q&A: Implications of recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions for people living with HIV


When do you have a legal duty to disclose your HIV-positive status to a sexual partner?

The Supreme Court of Canada says that you must disclose your status before having sex that poses “a realistic possibility of transmitting HIV.” But the Court also found that almost any risk is “realistic,” no matter how small. Based on the Court’s decisions, you have a legal duty to disclose:

▪ before having vaginal or anal sex* without a condom (regardless of your viral load); or

▪ before having vaginal or anal sex* with anything higher than a “low” viral load (even if you use a condom).

* See below for more information on the duty to disclose and anal sex.

In summary, either using a condom or having a low viral load is not enough to preclude criminal liability in cases of HIV non-disclosure when it comes to vaginal and anal sex.

When don’t you have a duty to disclose?

The Supreme Court of Canada was clear that you do not have a duty to disclose before having vaginal sex if (1) your viral load is low or undetectable and (2) you use a condom. Both of these are required.

▪ NOTE: Your viral load does not need to be “undetectable.” A “low” viral load is sufficient. What this means remains to be defined in subsequent cases. However, based on the Supreme Court of Canada decisions, it seems that it should at least include any viral load below 1500 copies of the virus per millilitre of blood.

What is still unclear?

There is still a lot of uncertainty in the law. Because the cases before the Supreme Court of Canada only dealt with HIV non-disclosure in the context of vaginal sex, it is not clear how the test of a “realistic possibility of transmission” will be applied to other sexual acts.

▪ What about anal sex?

Anal sex poses higher risks of transmission than vaginal sex, so the duty to disclose is at least as strict as for vaginal sex. In other words, you have a duty to disclose before having unprotected anal sex or when your viral load is higher than “low.” It might be the case that, as with vaginal sex, if you use a condom and your viral load is low, you don’t have a legal duty to disclose. But at this time, we can’t say for certain if satisfying both these requirements (condom use plus a low viral load) will be enough to avoid convictions in the case of anal sex.

▪ What about oral sex?

Oral sex (without a condom) is usually considered very low risk (i.e., an estimated risk ranging from 0 to 0.04%). We don’t know at this point whether courts will find that there is a duty to disclose before oral sex without a condom. We also don’t know whether it makes a legal difference if you are receiving or performing oral sex, or whether the amount of semen or vaginal fluid that the person performing oral sex is exposed to can make a legal difference.

What if you have a low or undetectable viral load AND use a condom but the condom breaks?

This is a very difficult question to answer and there are several factors that you should take into account:

▪ Although this issue was not addressed by the Supreme Court of Canada, you may have a duty to disclose in the case where a condom breaks.

▪ Disclosing your status after a condom breaks could be relevant to your sexual partner in deciding whether to seek “post-exposure prophylaxis” (PEP) with antiretroviral drugs to further reduce any risk of infection.

▪ But disclosure in such circumstances may also expose you to an increased risk of violence and/or threat of prosecutions. HIV continues to generate a lot of fear and misconception. Your partner may have a bad reaction if he or she discovers that you are HIV-positive after a condom breaks.

How can you protect yourself against prosecutions?

There is no guaranteed way to avoid being accused of HIV non-disclosure. People may lie or make mistakes about whether disclosure took place and/or whether a condom was used. But there are things you can do that may reduce the risk of criminal prosecutions or conviction for HIV non-disclosure.

▪ Tell your sexual partners that you are HIV-positive before sex, and try to get proof that you told them about your status (e.g., disclose your status in front of a witness before having sex, such as a counsellor or doctor, who can document that disclosure took place, or sign a joint document).

N.B.: Please be aware that any document that would establish that you had sex prior to disclosure might work against you. This could especially be the case if you had vaginal or anal sex before you first disclosed and, at the time of that sexual act, you did not use a condom or you cannot establish that your viral load was low or undetectable at that time.

▪ Use a condom when you have vaginal or anal sex and see a doctor regularly to create a record of your viral load test results showing lowered viral load.

Other important things to know about the Supreme Court of Canada decisions and the legal duty to disclose:

▪ There is no distinction between silence and a lie. People may face criminal charges for not disclosing their status whether their partners inquired about their HIV status or not.

▪ There is no distinction based on the circumstances of a particular encounter, including the type of relationship. People may face criminal charges whatever the type of relationship they had with their partner (e.g., whether with a casual partner versus a spouse) and whether the sex was for love, fun, money, procreation or drugs.

▪ People living with HIV can be prosecuted even if they had no intent to harm their partner.

▪ People living with HIV can be charged with aggravated sexual assault for not disclosing their status. An aggravated sexual assault is a sexual assault that “endangers the life” of the other person. It carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment of life and mandatory registration as a sexual offender.


The information contained [above] is information about the law, but it is not legal advice. For legal advice, please contact a criminal lawyer.

More criminalization, further marginalization: Supreme Court's HIV non-disclosure decisions create viral underclass |

This is the second in a series of blog posts about the recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions about the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure. See the first post here, in which we wrote about the perverse, negative impacts of the decision for women living with HIV.

US: Scott A. Schoettes of Lambda Legal outlines the battle being waged in U.S. courts over HIV criminalisation in POZ Magazine

Scott A. Schoettes is the HIV project director for Lambda Legal, a longtime legal champion of HIV-positive people and LGBT civil rights. He filed a brief in The People of the State of New York v. David Plunkett, an HIV criminalization case heard by the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state.

Julio Montaner speaks out against Supreme Court ruling in final paragraph

At first blush, Bradford McIntyre and Deni Daviau appear to have an ordinary love story. The Vancouver couple met online, dated for a year, were married in church and have been happily married for 11 years.

Poz People F*cked By Canadian Supreme Court And They Didn't Use A Condom

Poz People F*cked By Canadian Supreme Court And They Didn’t Use A Condom Posted 10/18/2012 9:00:00 AM By Alex GarnerEditor-at-Large Don’t be fooled by the recent ruling by the Canadian Supreme Court regarding HIV criminalization. It was not a win for social justice. It was a step backwards.

Oblique intention: On the (de-)criminalization of HIV transmission

The recent judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of R v Mabior raises some interesting issues about the criminalization of HIV transmission. The case involved a man who was charged with nine charges of aggravated sexual assault under the Canadian Criminal Code for failure to disclose his HIV status to his sexual partners.