One of the highlights of last month’s 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam (AIDS 2018) was the release of the “Expert consensus statement on the science of HIV in the context of criminal law”. In this statement, 20 eminent world scientists — including two leading Canadian researchers — provided their conclusive opinion on the low-to-no possibility of a person living with HIV transmitting the virus in various situations, including via sexual acts. Published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the International AIDS Society, the statement describes the current evidence on HIV transmission, treatment effectiveness and forensics so that HIV-related science may be better understood in criminal law contexts. You can learn more about the evidence in the statement from the short summary and a Frequently Asked Questions document, both available here.
People living with HIV in Canada have been charged with some of the most serious offences in the Criminal Code, even in cases of consensual sex where there was negligible or no risk of HIV transmission, no actual transmission and no intent to transmit.
The Undetectable=Untransmittable (“U=U”) campaign is based on scientific research, including the ground-breaking PARTNER study, establishing that when a person living with HIV on treatment maintains an undetectable viral load for at least six months, the risk of transmitting the virus through sex is effectively non-existent. As advocates for persons living with HIV await action from federal, provincial and territorial governments to address the overly-broad criminalization of HIV non-disclosure, how might the U=U campaign and the results of the PARTNER study impact ongoing prosecutions under the current state of the law?
Lack of access to HIV treatment and care among other complex factors contributes to these alarming rates: in many rural or remote areas, HIV-specific services are simply not available, or the small size of the community creates concerns around confidentiality for those accessing care. Indigenous people in Canada — many of whom are surviving a legacy of colonization and the intergenerational effects of residential schools — continue to experience systemic discrimination and extremely high rates of incarceration. In this context, the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure may be perceived as yet another form of institutionalized violence and discrimination, amplifying the negative impact of the HIV epidemic on Indigenous communities.
La campagne électorale a été longue et pleine de rebondissements, et les Canadiens attendent maintenant de voir ce que fera notre nouveau gouvernement.
Pendant la campagne, Action Canada pour la santé et les droits sexuels a publié une série de fiches thématiques sur ce que devrait faire le gouvernement sur divers enjeux liés aux droits sexuels et reproductifs. Certains gestes ont déjà été posés, mais le gros du travail proposé dans ces fiches reste à faire pour que notre pays respecte enfin ses obligations face à ces droits sexuels et reproductifs.
In Canada and in much of the Western world, thanks to the advent of combination antiretroviral therapy, there has been a clear improvement in health status and increased life expectancy of people living with HIV approaching that of the general population. However, despite these medical advances, negative public perception about HIV has yet to catch up to the reality that most clinicians encounter. The reality for the most part is of healthy and conscientious patients looking to improve their quality of life.
Le Blogue de CATIE présente des perspectives et opinions des personnes et organismes qui travaillent ou collaborent bénévolement à la réponse du Canada au VIH et à l’hépatite C.