According to the study, researchers saying that negligible risk of transmitting HIV during sex; when the viral load is suppressing. But further consideration and consultation are requiring in order to fully address the harms; that the law introducing to the lives of women living with HIV. There is a negligible risk of transmitting HIV during sex when a person living with HIV is on antiretroviral therapy and maintains a viral load under a specific threshold.
The court also stated that there is no legal obligation to disclose prior to sex; if a condom is using and the person living with HIV has a consistently low measure of HIV in their blood. This legal understanding of a “realistic possibility” contradicting current scientific knowledge; that just one of these conditions is sufficient to eliminate transmission risk.
Risk of transmitting HIV
Scientific evidence endorsed by the federal government demonstrating; that an undetectable viral load eliminates the risk of sexual transmission of HIV; regardless of condom use. Similarly, there is a negligible risk of transmission when condoms are used properly, no matter an individual’s viral load. Today, in addition to being inconsistent with current scientific evidence, HIV nondisclosure prosecutions are widely seen as unjust as they can result in harsh sentences for actions that result in little or no harm.
Canadian prosecutors and courts apply the criminal offenses of sexual assault; and aggravating sexual assault to prosecute cases of HIV nondisclosure. The criminalization of HIV nondisclosure was purportedly intended to protect women; while reducing HIV transmission risk by promoting disclosure and safer sex practices. Instead, research indicates that punitive approaches have the opposite effects, many of them significantly harmful.
Women living with HIV who don’t disclose their status; when they are sexually assaulting may themselves be convicted of a sexual offense. Not only does criminalization contradict scientific evidence around HIV transmission risk, it compromises women’s health-care engagement and deters HIV testing since those who do not know their status cannot be prosecuted. Yet access to HIV testing, treatment and support services is scientifically proving to decrease transmission risk.
Furthermore, women who aren’t prosecuting are still harming by the law. For example, women who have experienced emotional; and physical violence by abusive partners may face the threat of partners falsely reporting; that the woman didn’t disclose her HIV status. Living under the fear of being charging has significant consequences for women’s emotional, mental and physical well-being.