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

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 April 2016

Barry D. Adam
Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada and Ontario HIV Treatment Network, Toronto, Ontario,
Jason Globerman
Ontario HIV Treatment Network Toronto, Ontario,
Richard Elliott
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network Toronto, Ontario,
Patrice Corriveau
Department of Criminology University of Ottawa Ottawa, Ontario,
Ken English
AIDS Bureau Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care Toronto, Ontario,
Sean Rourke
Department of Psychiatry University of Toronto Toronto, Ontario Canada and Ontario HIV Treatment Network Toronto, Ontario,


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.

Copyright © Canadian Law and Society Association / Association Canadienne Droit et Société 2016 

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