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HIV Positive People’s Perspectives on Canadian Criminal Law and Non-Disclosure

  • Barry D. Adam (a1), Jason Globerman (a2), Richard Elliott (a3), Patrice Corriveau (a4), Ken English (a5) and Sean Rourke (a6)...

The largest survey to date of people living with HIV regarding attitudes toward criminalization of HIV non-disclosure, this study investigates: sources of legal information available to HIV-positive people; perceptions of how criminal prosecutions and media coverage affect understanding of rights and responsibilities of self and others; and where HIV-positive people themselves stand on the role the criminal justice system should play. While mainstream media constructions of criminal iconography do affect PHA views, those who have higher levels of formal education, are active in the dating scene, and have been living longer with HIV hold less punitive views than those who do not. While the overall pattern of agreement on where to draw the line in criminal prosecution holds regardless of demographic characteristics, there is some statistically significant variation in degree of punitiveness according to sexual orientation and gender as well.


Cette étude représente le plus important sondage à ce jour auprès de personnes séropositives sur leur attitude par rapport à la criminalisation de la non-divulgation. L’auteur y étudie: les sources d’information juridique offertes aux personnes atteintes du VIH; les perceptions sur la façon par laquelle les poursuites criminelles et le battage médiatique connexe influent sur la compréhension des droits et responsabilités de soi-même et des autres; et l’opinion des personnes séropositives sur le rôle que devrait jouer l’appareil de justice pénale. Les points de vue semblent être infléchis sur quatre rapports: (1) les constructions d’iconographie criminelle des grands médias, (2) le niveau d’instruction des répondants, (3) la fréquentation, par les répondants, des milieux de rencontres, et (4) la transition du statut de plaignant potentiel (peu après la contraction du virus) au statut d’accusé potentiel (au terme d’un certain délai après l’infection au VIH). Bien que tous les répondants semblent convenir de l’opportunité de poursuites criminelles, et ce, toutes caractéristiques démographiques confondues, il existe des variations statistiques importantes, selon l’orientation sexuelle et le sexe, quant à la sévérité des sanctions à imposer.

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Barry D. Adam , Patrice Corriveau , Richard Elliott , Jason Globerman , Ken English , and Sean Rourke . 2014. HIV disclosure as practice and public policy. Critical Public Health 25 (4): 386–97.

Barry D. Adam , Richard Elliott , Patrice Corriveau , and Ken English . 2014. Impacts of criminalization on the everyday lives of people living in with HIV in Canada. Sexuality Research and Social Policy 11: 3949.

Juanne Clarke . 2006. Homophobia out of the closet in the media portrayal of HIV/AIDS 1991, 1996 and 2001. Critical Public Health 16 (4): 317–30.

C. Dodds , and P. Keogh . 2006. Criminal prosecutions for HIV transmission: people living with HIV respond. International Journal of STD & AIDS 17: 315–18.

C. Dodds , A. Bourne , and M. Weait . 2009. Responses to criminal prosecutions for HIV transmission among gay men with HIV in England and Wales. Reproductive Health Matters 17 (34): 135–45.

Carol Galletly , Laura Glasman , Steven Pinkerton , and Wayne DiFrancisco . 2012. New Jersey’s HIV Exposure Law and the HIV-Related Attitudes, Beliefs, and Sexual and Seropositive Status Disclosure Behaviors of Persons Living with HIV. American Journal of Public Health 102 (11): 2135–40.

Isabel Grant . 2013. The over-criminalization of persons with HIV. University of Toronto Law Journal 63: 475–84.

Trevor Hoppe . 2014. From sickness to badness: The criminalization of HIV in Michigan. Social Science and Medicine 101: 139–47.

Keith Horvath , Richard Weinmeyer , and Simon Rosser . 2010. Should it be illegal for HIV-positive persons to have unprotected sex without disclosure? AIDS Care 22 (10): 1221–28.

Robert Klitzman , Sheri Kirshenbaum , Lauren Kittel , Stephen Morin , Shaira Daya , Maddalena Mastrogiacomo , and Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus . 2004. Naming names. Sexuality Research & Social Policy 1 (3): 3857.

Mona Loutfy , Mark Tyndall , Jean-Guy Baril , Julio SG Montaner , Rupert Kaul , Catherine Hankins . 2014. Canadian Consensus Statement on HIV and its transmission in the context of the criminal law. Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases & Medical Microbiology 25 (3): 135–40.

James Miller . 2005. African immigrant damnation syndrome. Sexuality Research & Social Policy 2 (2): 3150.

Asha Persson , and Christy Newman . 2008. Making monsters: Heterosexuality, crime and race in recent western media coverage of HIV. Sociology of Health and Illness 30 (4): 632–46.

J. Cristian Rangel , and Barry D. Adam . 2014. Everyday moral reasoning in the governmentality of HIV risk. Sociology of Health and Illness 36 (1): 6074.

Martha Shaffer . 2013. Sex, lies and HIV: Mabior and the concept of sexual fraud. University of Toronto Law Journal 63: 466–74.

Alison Symington . 2013. Injustice amplified by HIV non-disclosure ruling. University of Toronto Law Journal 63: 485–95.

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Canadian Journal of Law and Society / La Revue Canadienne Droit et Société
  • ISSN: 0829-3201
  • EISSN: 1911-0227
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-of-law-and-society-la-revue-canadienne-droit-et-societe
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