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Canadian Court Issues Decision on Condoms - Setback for HIV Prevention


Late last week the Supreme Court of Canada held that when a person living with HIV has a low viral load and uses a condom there is no significant risk of transmission, and the legal requirement to disclose HIV status is not triggered. While this may appear a victory at first glance, the Court’s decision is a set-back in the struggle to overcome HIV stigma, and is a blow to public health messaging. The failure comes in the Court’s unwillingness to recognize that the use of condoms alone eliminates significant risk. Read what our colleagues at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network had to say about the decision.

Read the decision from the Supreme Court of Canada >>

The criminalization of HIV transmission and exposure is a problem worldwide, and a growing problem in the U.S. More than 30 states have HIV criminalization laws, and prosecutions under these laws have picked up in recent years. This summer HIV Law Project co-authored an amicus brief in the case of Nick Rhoades, an Iowan charged under that state’s criminalization laws, despite his use of a condoms.

In that case, we and fellow amici, National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, and The Center for HIV Law and Policy, argued that “Mr. Rhoades’ conduct – and the Iowa legislature’s accommodation of the sexual intimacy of HIV-positive individuals that poses no more than a theoretical risk of transmission with no further obligation to disclose – is consistent with Iowa state and federal public health policies and practices that encourage risk reduction through condom use and other safer sex practices, and that encourage, without mandating, an individual’s disclosure of HIV status to partners.” Click here to read the brief.