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Man found guilty of murder for not disclosing HIV status

Critics argue conviction will hamper prevention

Credit: Ken Bosem illustration

A Hamilton man accused of failing to disclose his HIV-positive status before having unprotected sex has been found guilty of first-degree murder.

Johnson Aziga has been been convicted on two counts of first-degree murder, 10 counts of aggravated sexual assault, and one count of attempted aggravated sexual assault, reports the Globe and Mail.

Seven of the women became infected, two died of AIDS-related cancers and four were exposed but tested negative.

Aziga is the first person in Canada to be charged with murder for HIV nondisclosure. Activists against the criminalization of HIV warned that a conviction would only perpetuate stigma and hamper prevention efforts.

In a Jan 2009 analysis for Xtra, Sky Gilbert wrote that everyone has a responsibility for their own sexual health.

“Safer sex is about the liberating notion that all people — male and female, top and bottom — are either responsible to protect themselves by insisting on safer sex or to assume the risk that they may become HIV-positive if they don’t,” he wrote.

Activists also argued that the threat of criminal and social sanctions against people living with HIV acts as a disincentive for everyone to get tested and treated for HIV. They say it also encourages a state of denial in those who may be carrying the virus, further complicating HIV-prevention efforts.

Aziga is to be sentenced on May 7.

Read more about the Aziga case and the criminalization of HIV: