Living with HIV: ‘We are not criminals’

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Positive Canadians fear new supreme court ruling that is intended to protect will end up causing even more harm.

Imagine a world where you have to save condoms in the freezer every time you are intimate. One where you have every potential lover sign a form stating you disclosed your HIV status before things got serious, or where you run to the doctor every time you want to have sex, just so you can get a printout of your viral loads.

This could become a reality for approximately 80,000 Canadians. And that number is growing every day.

A person living with HIV must now disclose their status to all sexual partners unless a condom is used and the person has a low viral load, according to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada. This specific combination, which now leaves no wiggle room and challenges people to find ways of providing proof, is what critics are saying carries disastrous implications for persons living with HIV — and, potentially, every Canadian.

“Criminalization is not an effective way to stop the spread of HIV, and should be reserved for the most blame-worthy of cases,” says Katrina Jensen, executive director of AIDS Vancouver Island (AVI). “Everyone has a responsibility to protect their health, but this new ruling puts the onus entirely on the person living with HIV.”

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