New book, ‘Criminalized Lives’ on HIV Criminalization

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via HIV Justice Network

[Last] week saw the publication of a powerful and important new book, Criminalized Lives.

Based on 24 interviews conducted across Canada over two years with 16 people who were criminally accused of not disclosing their HIV-positive status, author Alexander McClelland details the many complexities of disclosure, and the violence that results from being criminalized.

McClelland works as a criminologist at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. He is also a member of HJN’s Global Advisory Panel (GAP) and the Canadian Coalition to Reform HIV Criminalization.

Canada has long been a hot spot for HIV criminalization where the act of not disclosing one’s HIV-positive status to sex partners has historically been regarded as a serious criminal offence. The book describes how this approach has disproportionately harmed Black and Indigenous people, women, gay men, and the poor.

While the book focuses on Canada, it presents lessons for those of us working around the world to end HIV criminalisation, especially in contexts where general criminal laws – like bodily harm, sexual assault and even attempted murder – are being applied to instances of alleged HIV non-disclosure.

By offering personal stories of people who have faced criminalization first-hand, McClelland questions common assumptions about HIV, the role of punishment, and the violence that results from the criminal legal system’s legacy of categorising people as either victims or perpetrators, and the complicity of public health systems in processes of criminalization.

Learn more.