Canadian activists: Those living with HIV are not criminals
HIV has changed over the course of the past two and a half decades with medical advancements. It is no longer a virus that means death but a condition that requires medication and prevention. In Canada those with the HIV virus face legal actions because of status non-disclosure even when there is no risk of transmitting the virus.
On February 8 the Supreme Court of Canada will be hearing two landmark cases on the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure. On Monday groups in Ontario and Quebec held events to bring awareness about the issue and expose the current injustices to the system.
While it is thought that the current system protects women when it comes to the HIV virus the opposite can be said. With fear of the disease and the criminal aspects one could face some who carry the virus do not get tested.
The current system has seen over 130 people with HIV in Canada facing the gavel with criminal charges for HIV non-disclosure in the past 15 years. Some of these cases include people who at no time put another at risk for catching the HIV virus with safe sex practices.
Activists stated that the current system affirms that the widespread prosecution of HIV-positive individuals in Canada for non-disclosure has contributed to a climate marked by anxiety, fear, stigma and misinformation that undermines HIV counselling, education and prevention efforts that puts all Canadians at greater risk.
At the Holy Trinity activists announced loudly that those living with HIV are not criminals. The laws should reflect action when a person knowingly and willingly attempts to spread the HIV virus to another. It should also reflect the advancement in medical treatments that have many with the virus living virtually disease free when treated with antiretroviral drugs who pose almost no risk to their sexual partners when safe sex practices are observed.