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THE LAW: Duty to disclose

A person has a legal duty to disclose his or her HIV-positive status to sexual partners before having sex that poses a “significant risk” of HIV transmission – including anal or vaginal sex without a condom. It is unclear what other activities are seen as being a “significant risk,” although a recent case in Hamilton suggests that giving head doesn’t cut it.

There are no specific HIV-related crimes under Canadian law. Rather, a combination of police and Crown attorneys have applied a variety of existing laws – from simple assault to murder – to HIV-positive people for not disclosing their health status. This type of prosecution has been deemed acceptable twice at the Supreme Court of Canada, the first time in 1998.

Criminal charges have recently been laid for other sexually transmitted infections, including herpes.