HIV Cases A Public Health Problem, Not Criminal One: Experts

A group of infectious disease experts is pushing back against Canada's justice system, arguing that non-disclosure of HIV infection to a sexual partner should not be grounds for criminal prosecution.

In a consensus statement presented Friday at the Canadian Conference on HIV/AIDS Research in St. John's, the six HIV experts said the latest scientific evidence shows the risk of sexually transmitting the virus varies from low to zero in many cases.

“We thought it was really important to provide the criminal justice system with a very concise statement about what we view as the risk of transmission and how HIV has really become a chronic, manageable disease,” co-author Dr. Mark Tyndall said in an interview.

There have been more than 150 cases in Canada in which people with HIV have been charged, mostly with aggravated sexual assault, for not disclosing their infection — sometimes years after the initial sexual encounter occurred.

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