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One Giant Step for Government, One Small Step for HIV Criminalization- Raymond Helkio - MyGayToronto

One Giant Step for Government, One Small Step for HIV Criminalization
1 December 2017.


Coinciding with World AIDS Day, today's announcement (December 1, 2017) from the Ontario government, sanctioned by Public Health Agency of Canada, is a plan to limit prosecution of HIV non-disclosure cases. While this is a step in the right direction it's hardly the ideal way to respond to HIV, or any illness. 

Under the current law, not disclosing one's HIV+ status to a sexual partner is a criminal offence, punishable by law which includes imprisonment. Despite there being no evidence to suggest that HIV criminalization works and mounting evidence that it doesn't people still argue that this law is in the best interest of public health. No other STD or illness has had the law applied to it in this manner so the question is why would we treat people with HIV as less than or different?

The public's health depends on each of us assuming personal responsibility for our bodies. Trusting what someone else says about their health status is not assuming responsibility because what someone 'thinks' about their HIV status and what is 'true' will vary by situation. Under the new policy, Ontario's Crown attorney won't prosecute cases of non-disclosure, but here comes the big BUT, among other things the HIV positive person must have had a suppressed viral load for at least six months and practice safe sex. 

Let's celebrate the great leaps our government has taken to make right with the gay community such as their recent apology for it's treatment of the LGBTQ2 communities. During his speech, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, "Today, we finally talk about Canada's role in the systemic oppression, criminalization, and violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit communities… " adding that "criminalization HIV" is one of many issues left to reconcile. That's hardly consolation for those already persecuted. And those yet to be. Even though they've taken a step to loosen the law, the law still has holds people with HIV to a unnecessarily harsher standard. 

Instead of treating HIV as a health issue, it's being singled out as something criminal. Given the scientific advancements in the treatment of HIV, it's a strange paradox that the law is trying to label it as more dangerous than what's already out there. 

 

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