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Forum on the criminalization of HIV

Leading minds discuss criminalization of HIV exposure

On Sept 29, the AIDS Committee of Ottawa (ACO) is hosting a forum on the criminalization of HIV.

Speakers at the HIV forum include Edwin Bernard, writer and consultant for UK and international HIV organizations; Richard Elliot, executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network; David Hoe, HIV advocate; and Eric Mykhalovskiy, associate professor in the department of sociology at York University.

In Canada, criminal law is used to regulate the risk of sexual transmission of HIV. People who are HIV-positive and living with AIDS have a legal obligation to disclose their HIV status to sexual partners before engaging in activities that pose a significant risk of HIV transmission.

The use of criminal law is a concern for people living with HIV/AIDS and AIDS advocacy organizations, as the courts have not successfully determined what acts are deemed to be a significant risk.

In Ottawa, the criminalization of HIV has been a topic of interest since a gay man was arrested in May for nondisclosure of his HIV status. The accused now faces 26 charges, including four counts of aggravated sexual assault, four counts attempt murder, five counts of sexual assault, eight counts of breaching probation and one count of possession of child pornography.

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