Canadian prosecutors have been directed to no longer pursue criminal charges in HIV nondisclosure cases in which the person living with HIV has maintained an undetectable viral load for six months, reports Toronto NOW.
What’s more, charges of nondisclosure are “generally” not to be pursued in cases involving only oral sex, in which condoms were used or the accused was taking treatment as recommended by a doctor.
The federal directive arrived from Jody Wilson-Raybould, the minister of justice and the attorney general of Canada and took effect December 8.
However, Toronto NOW points out that as the federal attorney general, Wilson-Raybould has jurisdiction only over territories, and it is unclear whether the provinces will follow suit. Canada consists of three territories—Northeast Territories, Nunavut and Yukon—and 13 provinces, including Quebec and Ontario, where the majority of HIV nondisclosure cases take place.
The purpose of the directive is to align the laws with the latest scientific research. Data show that people living with HIV who maintain an undetectable viral load not only improve their health and longevity but also cannot transmit HIV sexually. The fact is known as “Undetectable = Untransmittable,” or U=U.
The new directive also aims to stem criminal charges of nondisclosure against people living with HIV, which will also help fight stigma against those with the virus.
The Canadian Coalition to Reform HIV Criminalization, an alliance of health care experts, lawyers and people living with HIV, called for the new directive.