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Supreme Court to rule on HIV cases Friday

October 03 0 Comments Category: News

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Supreme Court to rule on HIV cases Friday

CRIMINAL LAW / Condom use and low viral load could bar prosecutions

Marcus McCann / National / Wednesday, October 03, 2012

When do HIV-positive people have a legal obligation to disclose their HIV status to sexual partners?

The Supreme Court of Canada will grapple with that question in two decisions to be released Oct 5.

The decision could have sweeping implications for HIV positive people, gay men and, ultimately, everyone who is sexually active.

Since 1998, at least 130 people have been charged with failing to disclose their HIV status before having sex. The legal test for conviction asks whether there was a “significant risk” of HIV transmission.
Lower courts have wrestled with that test when condoms are used, since condoms can greatly reduce the risk of HIV transmission. Similarly, the use of anti-retroviral drugs can lower a poz person’s viral load, which also reduces the risk of transmission. The court will likely rule on whether condom use or low viral load is a bar to prosecution.

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