Highlights significant findings about Californian criminal law including that more than 800 people have come in contact with California’s criminal system based on their HIV status, with 93% of convictions requiring no proof of conduct likely to transmit HIV. Also finds HIV criminal statutes are disparately enforced based on race/ethnicity, sexuality and gender.
Provides a snapshot of the temporal and demographic patterns of HIV criminalization in Canada from 1989 to 2016, also updating information on the outcomes of criminal cases. Finds people are often convicted in cases involving negligible or no risk of HIV transmission, and that criminal law is increasingly used against people living with HIV from marginalized populations.
Explores mainstream Canadian newspaper coverage of HIV non-disclosure criminal cases in Canada, finding those newspapers are a source of profoundly stigmatizing representations of African, Caribbean and Black men living with HIV.
Argues that HIV criminalization laws impute a host of assumptions about the HIV-positive community and their sexual partners, suggesting social scientists and legislators should reassess the evidence that purportedly undergirds characterizations of HIV-positive persons as dangerous liaisons with cruel intentions.
Observes that if both condom use and a low viral load are required to avoid criminal liability for HIV nondisclosure, many people living with HIV who inject drugs risk criminal prosecution if they do not disclose their HIV serostatus to sexual partners. Further, the article finds that Canadian law disproportionately impacts the most marginalized and vulnerable women living with HIV in Canada.
Findings from a survey of people with HIV who use illicit drugs found that most were not aware of the 2012 Supreme Court ruling, which may place them at risk of prosecution. Discussions about disclosure and the law were lacking in healthcare settings.
Applying a social constructionist framework that places people living with HIV in the intersection of both minimal power and negative social construction, this study investigates whether HIV criminalization laws are more likely to be present in states that have a relatively larger percentage of socially marginalized populations, finding that that states with HIV criminalization laws have relatively larger African American populations.
Details the major areas of concern and the harm which both direct and indirect criminalization inflict on an individual’s human rights and the health of society as a whole.
Drawing on a feminist analytical framework and concepts of structural violence, this analysis sought to characterize the negotiation of sexual relationships and HIV disclosure among Women Living with HIV (WLWH) in a criminalized setting. Researchers conducted 64 qualitative interviews with cis and trans WLWH in Vancouver, Canada between 2015 and 2017. Despite frequently being represented as a law that ‘protects’ women, the study findings indicate that the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure constitutes a form of gendered structural violence that exacerbates risk for interpersonal violence among WLWH. In line with recommendations by, the WHO and UNAIDS these findings demonstrate the negative impacts of regulating HIV prevention through the use of criminal law for WLWH.
This policy brief represents the view, as women living with HIV, of the current state of criminalization of HIV among women in Canada and the United States after reviewing academic and grey literature, statutes and policies and an unpublished survey of membership. ICW-NA members highlighted their concern about stigma and discrimination in the justice system related to HIV non-disclosure.
Based on interviews with people living with HIV, participants reported that HIV prosecutions had created a heightened sense of fear, vulnerability and stigma – “consequences that can run contrary to the ostensible objective of discouraging behaviour likely to transmit HIV.”
Outlines the history of HIV prosecutions against women in Canada and why criminalization is bad for women. Includes recommendations for reform.
Found uneven application of HIV criminalization laws in the state of Michigan, with black men and white women having a comparatively greater risk of conviction than white men or black women. White women had the highest conviction rate of any group analysed, suggesting they may face a particular burden under these laws. Many of the white women convicted were especially disadvantaged by issues such as poor mental health, substance abuse and homelessness.
Found that to justify a conviction or more severe punishment, prosecutors and judges often argued that HIV infection was a death sentence; that HIV is a deadly weapon; and that HIV-positive people are homicidal threats – despite fewer than 7% of cases involving alleged infection. Medical evidence was rarely invoked in the adjudication of cases. The study concludes that enforcement of HIV disclosure laws reflects pervasive, moralising narratives.